Creating Cutting Edge Walls From Wood Scraps, Closet Organization Tips That Actually Work, and Be the First to Decorate With This New Tile – 30 Years in the Making!

  • Transcript

    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 we are here to help you with your home improvement projects, whether you are a do-it-yourselfer or, perhaps, a direct-it-yourselfer. You need some tips to hire a pro to get the job done? Whatever it is, we are here to do just that. 888-666-3974 is the telephone number, 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Give us a call, right now, and we’ll see what we can do.

    Coming up this hour, if you’ve made a visit to your junk drawer lately, you may have missed a seemingly harmless stash of common household items that can actually put your home at risk. And we’re talking about batteries. We’re going to teach you how a simple storage mistake has some homes going up in flames, later this hour.

    LESLIE: That’s a scary thought. And you guys, you know there’s nothing better than getting a good night’s sleep. Well, that’s what I’ve been told. I haven’t had one in ages. And that’s really something that could be made a lot easier if you’ve got good-quality bedding. So we’re going to have some tips on how to buy luxury bedding at a bargain price to keep you and your wallet comfortable.

    TOM: And what would you do to avoid shoveling snow again? We’ve got a serious solution for anyone who’s had enough shoveling for one lifetime.

    LESLIE: Oh, geez, anything.

    And one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Dremel Micro 8-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Cordless Rotary Tool Kit. It’s got a lot of name and it packs a lot of punch. It’s light and it’s easy to transport, so you can really use it wherever you’re working.

    TOM: It’s a power tool worth $89 but going out to one caller we talk to on the air this hour. So let’s get to it. The number, again: 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Robert in North Dakota, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    ROBERT: I have a friend who’s planning on building a horse arena – an indoor horse arena, the place where we board our horses. It’s going to be a very large arena. I’m sure they’re going to insulate it well. There will probably be some stalls inside. Dirt floor, so – for riding. So there will probably be some Bobcats in and out of there, occasionally, changing the dirt out.

    And my question is as far as heating – she’s doing some research to try to find the best, cost-effective and efficient way to heat this. So far, I think she’s kind of narrowed it down to coal. I mentioned to her about solar. I also mentioned geothermal. What, in your opinion, would be the best efficient and cost-effective way to heat this arena?

    TOM: And so, first of all, when you talk about solar and coal, you’re talking about fuels. What kind of heating system does she want to use?

    ROBERT: Well, I think I suspect she might be using water, I’m thinking, under the dirt. Possibly a water-type …

    TOM: Yeah, I don’t know how that’s possible if you’re going to have Bobcats driving over that. I would think that’s too heavy.

    ROBERT: What about some sort of blowers?

    TOM: Well, yeah, like a forced-air system. I mean that’s probably going to be something in line with that approach.

    Now, in terms of solar, what I would do is if I was building a barn, I would make sure that I designed it to take advantage of passive solar energy. So, essentially, you will design the windows in the barn so that it captures the sun in the winter and protects from overhead sun in the summer, so it doesn’t overheat in the summer but traps some of the heat in the winter. The idea of passive solar energy as a design concept is something she should definitely look into.

    In terms of fuel, it doesn’t – the fuel is only part of the equation. It’s really what kind of system you’re going to use. So if you were going to use coal, I doubt that you’re going to be using a forced-air system.


    TOM: You’re probably, with a forced-air system – I don’t know that I’ve seen it coal-fired. I’ve seen forced air with wood fire and I’ve also seen wood-fired boilers, where you have a wood-fired boiler that would convert to a hot-water coil that air is blown over, in the sense it’s an air-to-air heat exchanger that way or a water-to-air heat exchanger.

    ROBERT: OK. So you don’t think that coal, as the energy source, could maybe somehow work with the forced air combined?

    TOM: It depends on what the heating system is. It’s got to be properly matched with the heating system.


    TOM: If coal is readily available and there’s a system that’s designed to work with it, then it could be a fine fuel. But it really depends on what the system is.

    ROBERT: It is readily available. It’s about probably 10 miles down the road from where she’s going to build this facility.

    TOM: Ah, I see why she’s interested in it then, yeah. If I was you, I would focus on the system first and the fuel second. And if you want to use coal as the fuel, just make sure you have a good, efficient system in which to burn it.

    ROBERT: Alright. Thank you, guys. I appreciate it and love your show.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Maria in Delaware on the line who needs help with a paneling/painting project.

    So you’ve got a new house and it’s got a lot of it, huh, Maria?

    MARIA: It sure does. About 25 years ago, the paneling was probably very popular but I’m really tired of looking at it. We tried painting one room and we sanded it a little bit, primed it and painted it. I’m OK with that but my husband is not because you can still see the grooves through the paint. So we were wondering if there was a way to take care of those grooves – maybe spackling it or whatever – but we didn’t want the spackling to later flake out or chip off and cause more problems than we already have.

    So, hopefully, you know of some way that we can do this without just taking all the paneling down.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Anything that you’re going to fill in is just going to come out, just like you think. So, really, the best thing is to either sheathe over it with a ½-inch drywall or take the paneling off and put drywall on.

    MARIA: OK. A ½-inch drywall. So, how would that affect the molding that we have? All of that would have to be replaced, as well, like around windows, everything?

    TOM: Yeah, you’d have to pull that off.

    The thing is, what you might want to try first, though, is just removing the paneling and seeing what’s underneath it. Because there might be a halfway decent wall underneath and if you’re lucky enough to find out that the paneling was not glued to those walls, then maybe you can just repair the wall, spackle the nail holes, fix any tear – torn areas – or any other damage and then just paint the walls again. Because that paneling was often nailed on with a very thin ring nail.

    MARIA: Yes, it was nailed on. I can see the nails in that.

    TOM: Yeah, it usually pulls off pretty easily. So I would – first thing I would do is pull that paneling off. Nothing you put over that paneling, in terms of – there’s no way to really fill it in, because I know what you’re asking us to do. But there’s no way to do that, because it’s going to crack and fall out and it’s going to look worse than it does now.

    So if you don’t like the painted look and you want to go back to just a clean wall, I would take the paneling down. Do it one wall at a time, one area at a time, until you get the hang of it. And this way, you can almost not do any molding work whatsoever because, generally, that stuff is cut around the molding or you can cut the paneling really tight to the molding and leave it there.

    MARIA: OK. Thank you both so much for your help.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, no idea what’s floating around in your junk drawer? Well, that goes for most of us. But there’s one thing you need to take out today before it causes harm to your home. Find out what that is, 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, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to help you with your home improvement projects. But help yourself first; call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And if we talk to you on the air this hour, you could win the Dremel Micro 8-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Cordless Rotary Tool Kit.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s small and portable enough so you can bring it to any workstation or worksite without sacrificing power. And the Dremel Rotary Tool Kit’s docking station keeps its battery charged so it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice.

    TOM: Check out the Dremel online at It’s a prize worth $89. Available at The Home Depot and it goes home with one lucky caller we talk to today.

    LESLIE: George in Arkansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    GEORGE: Trying to get some insight, maybe to get an idea for what I can do to replace my driveway. What I have is – the entrance of my driveway, where the sidewalk portion is, is concrete but beyond that is asphalt. And the problem I’m having with it is that the asphalt has been worn down over the years. I couldn’t tell you how long it’s been there; it’s a rental property. And the asphalt is worn down, it’s uneven, it’s lumpy and it goes about 30 feet. And then towards the end of the driveway, where it meets up with the dirt that is my yard, it’s crumbling and falling apart.

    So I’m wondering, what can I do – I’m going to take the entire driveway out this summer but I want to replace it with a material that is going to last for a while, that doesn’t break down and is fairly inexpensive. And I’m trying to avoid concrete. That’s the only other thing that I can think of. So, what would you suggest?

    TOM: So, first of all, you can’t blame the asphalt. Because, if you think about it, roads last a really, really long time and they’re made of asphalt. So why is it that your driveway failed but a road doesn’t? Well, the reason is is because the roadway is properly installed.

    If you have the right base put in under that asphalt, your asphalt driveway can last indefinitely. But a lot of times, folks don’t take the time, trouble or expense to put in the right kind of crushed gravel, well-tamped down, properly excavated base under the asphalt. And as a result, you get this sort of lumpy, deteriorated mess that you’re looking at right now.

    So you’re doing the right thing tearing it out. But I think putting in a new asphalt driveway, properly installed, will be less expensive than concrete and probably less expensive than pavers, I’m sure. The only other thing that you could do is just go with a stone driveway but of course, that’s kind of a maintenance headache. Because once you go with stone, you always have to add more.

    GEORGE: What do you think about possibly doing a brick driveway?

    TOM: Well, that’s – when I say “pavers,” paver brick is what I’m talking about. And I think that if it’s a long driveway, like you’re describing, yeah, you can price it out but it’s going to be pretty expensive. But again, the same issue applies: you’ve got to prep it properly. If you don’t have the right base, those pavers are going to move and you’re going to get weeds in between them and everything else.

    GEORGE: Right. OK. So, my best bet would be to go ahead and replace it with another asphalt driveway but have the base done properly.

    TOM: Exactly.

    GEORGE: If I was – OK, I want to do the base myself. So, what’s the process I need to go through to prep the base properly so that the asphalt doesn’t fail?

    TOM: George, there’s actually an excellent website that you might want to take a look at to review how asphalt should be installed. And it’s the National Asphalt Pavement Association website. It’s simply at And if you go to, you find all the information right there.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to Iowa where Kathy is on the line with a flooring question.

    Kathy, how can we help you with your project?

    KATHY: Well, my son is purchasing his first home and the home was built back in 1930. And the carpet that is in the home is newer carpet but the owner was a heavy smoker. And we are going to have to pull the carpet out and we found that the backing that is underneath of it is probably original carpet padding from 30, 40 years ago. And it’s adhered to the wood floors.

    TOM: And they’re like hardwood floors?

    KATHY: They are hardwood below, yes.

    TOM: OK. So a couple of things. First of all, you need to pull the carpet up, you need to pull the tackless up. That’s the nail strips that hold it down. You’re going to have to scrape up the old padding that’s sticking to the floor, as best you can. And you would use floor scrapers for that or a paint scraper for that or even sometimes a spackle knife or a putty knife will work. And then you’re going to have to refinish that floor.

    Now, if some of the pad sticks to it, if you really can’t get it clean, then I would use – and actually, I would hire somebody to do this, because sanding a hardwood floor is a tricky business if you’ve not worked with the equipment before. Because you can easily ruin the floor. The belt sanders that the professional floor finishers use for these are very heavy and hard to maneuver and they take a lot of material off very quickly. So if you don’t know how to handle it, you can dig through the floor before you know it and you’ve ruined it.

    KATHY: Yeah. I don’t even know if the floor below is salvageable or what condition or type of wood – hardwood flooring – it is.

    TOM: Well, you may find that it is salvageable. Very often, those old homes had good-quality flooring underneath and then the first thing people did was put carpet over it, which made for a great drop cloth in the last 80, 90 years. So you may find it’s in good shape.

    You might also find that it’s not oak but Douglas fir, which is equally beautiful although it’s a bit softer. But in either event, have the floor sanded professionally. If you can restore them, I think you’ll be very happy with the results.

    KATHY: OK. Well, thank you.

    TOM: Well, we’ve all done it: shoved a bunch of stuff into closets and drawers to get clutter out of sight. But there’s a chance that when you straighten up, you might be putting your home and family at serious risk.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Odds and ends sitting around your house can go up in flames if they land in the wrong place, like too close to heat sources. So never use your home’s furnace and water-heater area for extra storage. These rooms are usually small and storing anything at all in them is not advisable.

    TOM: And the National Fire Protection Association recommends nothing flammable should be placed within a 3-foot range of heating equipment. That includes rags, half-empty paint cans and then random stuff you just might have stored near your hot-water heater right now. Take a look. Get rid of it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And speaking of flammable, there have also been reports of house fires starting when a 9-volt battery comes in contact with everyday metallic objects, like a paper clip or a thumb tack, even batteries that you thought were dead.

    TOM: Good tip. So before you toss those 9-volt batteries into a junk drawer, you want to place insulated tape over the battery terminals to keep the electrical current in its place and not cause any fire hazards. 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Joe in Pennsylvania is on the line with a plumbing question.

    Welcome, Joe.

    JOE: When the kids are taking a shower, what happens is you pull the tub up – you know, the drain thing? You pull it up and then what happens is when you pull that up, then they – you can take a bath and it shuts it off. Well, then when you get – they get done or whatever, to let the water out, you’ve got to push it down. Well, it doesn’t stay down and then it pops back up.

    And so with – sometimes, we wet a washcloth and we’ll put it on the end of the little knob to push the thing down. And sometimes, that’ll hold it but sometimes it just pops up and then you’re stuck waiting on it for it to drain unless you sit there and hold it down with your hand.

    TOM: Joe, in that type of situation, what you need to do is to disassemble the assembly of the stopper. And that usually starts by loosening the screws which hold the overflow assembly in place. Is there a metal plate on the back of the tub?

    JOE: Yes.

    TOM: So that metal plate, usually you take that apart and you pull the assembly out and then clean it. And sometimes, you’ve got to scrub it with a toothbrush to get everything working properly again. Because it’s getting hung up and that’s why it won’t open again and drain the tub out without you holding that thing down.

    You’ll often get like a calcium deposit on there from the water stains or sediment or soap scum. There’s a lot of gunk that gets in there. But if you take that apart – remember how you took it apart because you’re going to put it back together the same way – and clean it, that should solve it.

    JOE: Alright. Thank you.

    LESLIE: Pat in Louisiana is on the line and needs some help with a cleaning project. What can we do for you?

    PAT: We had our carpet cleaned about a year ago. And in this bedroom, we have a heavy, clear, plastic mat that goes underneath the computer chair.

    TOM: OK.

    PAT: Well, recently, I moved it over a bit and I noticed that it was wet underneath it.

    TOM: OK.

    PAT: There’s no leak in the roof; water hasn’t come in the house. So only thing that could be is a year ago, the water from the carpet-cleaning service got underneath this mat and it’s been there all this time.

    TOM: Hmm. OK.

    PAT: So, we cut out a large circle, like a 5-foot circle, and got all the part out that was wet. So we’re going to have to replace the carpet and the pad. But on the concrete – the bare concrete – there are some spots of discoloration, so I don’t know if that’s mold or mildew. My question is: how do I clean that concrete before we have the new carpet installed?

    TOM: The concrete spots, if anything, are mineral-salt deposits; it’s not mold.

    PAT: OK.

    TOM: And so, it’s really cosmetic at this point. If you can wash it down with a vinegar-and-water solution, it’ll melt the mineral-salt deposits away.

    But the other thing that occurs to me is sometimes concrete will draw moisture into a house. And so if anywhere near that area outside, you’ve got water that’s ponding or collecting, it’s possible for the concrete to sort of draw that moisture up into the slab and across. And it may not have been able to evaporate where the pad was covering the concrete, which is why that area stayed damp, whereas the other area dried out. So there may be a different explanation as to why that stayed wet.

    One of the things that you might want to do, since you have the carpet pulled all the way back, is to paint the concrete. Paint that area with an epoxy paint. That will seal in that concrete and stop some of the evaporation if the moisture is being drawn through it and up into the floor surface.

    PAT: So, should I – we paint the whole room? We don’t have all of the carpet up yet; we just cut out the middle part.

    TOM: Well, if you’re going to take all the carpet up, then paint the whole floor. If you’re only going to take part of it up, then just paint what you can get to. But I would definitely paint the floor.

    PAT: OK.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you sick of shoveling out your driveway after every single storm? Well, we’ve got a long-term solution for anyone serious about hanging up that shovel for good, coming up.

    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, you know, we’ve been talking about getting homes smarter: more home automation and technology that not only makes things easier, it also helps you save money. High-tech thermostats are now going a step further than just being programmable.

    Right, Tom?

    TOM: Well, that’s right. And we saw several of them at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. And what’s exciting is that some of these HVAC companies have been around for decades and they’re really now embracing how technology can improve comfort, safety and the bottom line for everyone involved.

    And while I was at CES, I actually spoke with Bryan Mitchell from Carrier – now, Carrier is a company that actually invented air conditioning 100-plus years ago – about their new thermostat called Côr. Here’s what he had to say.

    BRYAN: At Carrier, we understand, through our more than a century of experience, how a heating-and-cooling system works most efficiently. So when you use the Côr Thermostat, what we’re able to do is save you, on average, about 20 percent in your home heating-and-cooling costs, because we understand how to best optimize the heating-and-cooling system.

    TOM: So, a clock-setback thermostat, that’s obviously a technology that’s been around for a long, long time. How does this sort of step up what a basic clock-setback thermostat would do?

    BRYAN: This learns your behavior. It understands the outdoor temperature and uses those two behaviors – the outdoor temperature and your personal behaviors – to time and create rhythms that create the greatest amount of efficiency.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s got a touchscreen display that’s modeled after mobile-phone technology. And not only can you operate your HVAC system right from your smartphone, you can actually monitor your system.

    For example, you’ll get an alert if your heat or your air conditioning is not working for any reason.

    TOM: And that’s good to know. Côr is available through your local Carrier dealer and it’s compatible with just about any system, not just Carrier.

    You can learn more at That’s

    LESLIE: Matthew from Massachusetts is on the line with a tiling question. How can we help you today?

    MATTHEW: I recently got a tile floor installed at my parents’ house. It was a gift from my brother and I. And when they came and put it in, I don’t think they used the right underlay for the tile. And so, within a couple days after installing the tile, it was shifting a little bit and the grout was cracking. And we asked them to come back and do it but they said they were going to redo it using the same materials. And I just wanted to make sure that floor – a pier-and-beam house with a wooden, plywood floor – what type of material they need to put down before they put the tile on. Because they put down some sort of felt material.

    TOM: Yeah, that was probably just tar paper before they put the tile down.

    What did they do to prepare the surface of the floor, Matt, besides this felt-like material you’re describing? Did they put any kind of a wire mesh down, like a concrete coating, on top of that?

    MATTHEW: They sanded the floor and then I think they put thinset concrete. And then they put this – whatever this flexible fabric stuff was on top of that. Then they put the mortar on and then they put the tile.

    TOM: Now, when you say it’s starting to shift, are we getting movement of the tiles themselves or is this cracking just in the joints?

    MATTHEW: I think the tiles themselves were – a couple of them were cracking. Well, they – you’d step on it and another tile next to it would move.

    TOM: Yeah, this is not good. This is not good at all.

    So, what are they offering to do? When you say they’re going to redo it, are they going to take up all the tile and start again from the top?

    MATTHEW: Well, it’s been kind of struggle because we’ve been going back and forth with them. And they said they were going to come back, bring the same crew, use the same materials and redo it with a manager there to supervise. And we were kind of insisting that they have – that they use the concrete board or whatever – the backer board – and actually kind of go through all the proper steps that we’d researched. And they were a little reluctant to do that.

    I think we finally got them to agree to that and then they were saying they were going to do a 10-percent discount, maybe a 20-percent discount. But it’s really uncertain, you know, what they’re going to do to actually ensure the quality when they come back and do it again.

    TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, they blew the installation. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. The only reason these tiles move is because the base under them is not solid enough. And a lot of this has to do with what size tile it is.

    How big is this tile? What’s the diameter?

    MATTHEW: Twelve by twenty-four.

    TOM: Oh, yeah, that’s a big tile. And the bigger the tile, the stronger the base, because tiles don’t bend. So, if I was doing a 12×24 tile, I would do this on a mud floor, which basically means I would start with a plywood floor, I’d put down tar paper, then I’d put down wire mesh, then I’d put down anywhere from an inch to 2 inches of a sort of a cement/sand mix. And that’s what’s called the “mud.” And that gets – that dries rock-solid with no movement. And then on top of that, you would glue the tile and then you would grout it.

    It sounds to me like they didn’t put down the proper base. And if they had a problem with the base that was there, it was their responsibility to identify that for you and say, “Listen, your – this tile is not going to work on this floor, for the following reasons.”

    So, is this something you bought through a tile store for – is that why you’re getting this level of cooperation?

    MATTHEW: Well, no. We went through one of the national flooring chains.

    TOM: OK. So you’ve got somebody you can kind of go back to and have a conversation. Because if this was your average tile guy, I’m sure they would be gone by now and not answering your calls. So, it’s good that you’re working with a national chain but I do think it’s pretty clear that they completely blew this installation and it needs to be redone.

    Now, whether you have the same crew do it or not, that really depends on them. But I say that it would be in their best interest to put not only – not necessarily the same crew but their best crew on this and to make sure they take the added steps of putting in the proper base for this. Because unless you do that, it’s not going to stick.

    MATTHEW: Alright. Well, that’s what I expected. Thanks a lot.

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead on the program, are you looking to get a few more Zs? Well, we’ve got tips on what you should be looking for in luxury bedding, coming up.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We are here to take your calls, your questions about do-it-yourself projects in your house. Or if you’re not going to do it yourself, perhaps you need some advice on how to hire a pro to get the job done. All questions welcome at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And one caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win the Dremel Micro 8-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Cordless Rotary Tool Kit.

    LESLIE: That’s right. The Dremel is lightweight but it’s super-big on power. And it’s designed for you to hold it just like a pen or a pencil, so it gives you extra control when you’re working on detailed projects or in a tight space.

    TOM: It’s a prize worth $89 and one caller we talk to on the air this hour wins. Make that you. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now you can check it out at or at your local Home Depot. But give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question and your chance to win at 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: William in Illinois is on the line with a heating question. How can we help you with your project?

    WILLIAM: I live in the Midwest here in Illinois. I’ve got a smaller house, about 1,100 square foot. It’s got an addition on the front of the house that is about 12 foot by 10 foot, something like that. Well, it’s in a small room. It’s got a pretty good-sized window facing the road. It’s on a foundation but it’s not attached to the garage and it’s not heated. I don’t have a heating duct running out there. It’s attached to the attic space, which is insulated. That room gets cold in the winter and hot in the summer.

    And I wondered if I just ran a heating duct out there, if that would be enough or should I put a vapor barrier down? Or should I knock a hole in it to attach it to the (inaudible at 0:27:57) or get up under there and insulate and then run a heating duct or what?

    TOM: First of all, whenever you have a stand-alone space like that that’s pushed off from the rest of the house, you have more exterior surfaces, so you have more ways for the – basically that building to chill. Adding insulation is always a no-brainer. Addition insulation to the floor, addition insulation to the attic, making it as insulated as possible is good.

    Now, you ask, “Can I add a heating duct to that?” Maybe. Depends on a lot of things. Depends on the existing layout of your HVAC system and whether or not you can get a properly sized supply and return duct to that space.

    Does this room get heat from the rest of the house but just not enough heat?

    WILLIAM: It doesn’t get anything right now. It has just a door. It was – we just use it as a bedroom at – in the summers, I guess.

    TOM: It doesn’t get anything. OK. So what I would do is I would consult with your HVAC contractor to see how difficult it would be and whether or not the pro thought you could get enough BTUs into that room to provide enough heat. And I don’t know if it includes the air conditioning or not.

    If not, the other thing to look at is what’s called “split-ductless.” Basically, you would install what is, essentially, sort of a miniature heat pump right outside the wall of that house. And you would hang on the wall a register that has the fan built into it, sort of a blower unit. And that can supply cold air in the summer and that can supply warm, heated air in the winter. And that would, basically, be a separate heating system for that room – a separate HVAC system for that room – but it’s easier than trying to sort of extend, sometimes, the core system of the house. Does that make sense?

    WILLIAM: Right. Yeah, yeah, it sure does. Alrighty. Well, I will look into both of those options.

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

    LESLIE: Well, if you swore you’d do anything to avoid shoveling out your driveway again, here’s the real test: are you willing to invest in a heated driveway? You know, they’re not cheap but they handle the job while you stay warm inside.

    TOM: Yeah. And here’s how they work. A boiler, which is basically the same kind of boiler that might heat your house, it pushes antifreeze through pipes that run beneath the driveway surface, keeping it warm enough so that the snow never even collects in the first place.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Unfortunately, the system isn’t something that can be retrofitted and it can’t work with existing pipes, either. So, your upfront cost includes a new driveway, since your current one is going to need to be dug up.

    TOM: And it’s an expensive thing to install, so start by comparing the price of the cost of long-term snow removal. It might be more cost-effective if you just hire a plow to haul away the snow each winter. But if you live in a snowy area or a luxury upgrade is what you’re looking for, a heated driveway is one your neighbors will notice, because it will be the only snow-free driveway on the block. And prospective buyers, of course, will appreciate it, as well.

    LESLIE: Nancy in Oregon needs some help with some spring cleaning. How can we help you today?

    NANCY: My siding gets green on it and so does the riser on my stairs. And north flower beds get lots of moss in them and I was wondering how to keep the moss out without harming the flowers.

    TOM: OK. So this is a very common problem and especially when you have shaded areas. When you don’t have a lot of sunlight getting to a space, typically it can get a lot of algae and a lot of moss.

    Now, one way to deal with this is with a mixture of bleach and water but that can definitely kill your flowers. There’s another product out there that is more effective and much safer. It’s called Wet & Forget.

    NANCY: Wet & Forget. Now, that’s for the stairs and the siding?

    LESLIE: Yeah. It really is a great product, because what you do with it is you just sort of spray it on the surfaces, which would be your siding and the staircase, and then you just let it sit there and do its job. As it gets rained on, as it just sort of sits there, it works to get rid of the mold, moss, algae, mildew, whatever is there. And it works in a way that it sort of just stays there and will continue to work over time.

    You’re going to put it on. You’re not going to see it happen right away but give it a couple of days, a week and you’ll see it start to go away and then be gone. And it’s usually around 35 bucks a gallon or so and you can find it at Ace Hardware and other types of shops like that. And it’s a great product.

    NANCY: So you put it on full strength?

    LESLIE: Yes. Nancy, it’s a concentrate so what you need to do is you want to dilute it about 2½ cups of the Wet & Forget to a gallon of water. And again, you just apply it. Within a few days, you’ll start to notice it working and that’ll really do the trick.

    Now, for your flowerbed, I think what you really want to do is try to get more sunlight into the flowerbed, because that will deter the moss from growing. Obviously, it’s a shade garden so that’s kind of what happens in that space: you’ll get moss. And you probably have plants in there that do well or best in shade. So if you can get a little bit more sunlight in there, that will truly help to get rid of that moss.

    NANCY: Well, Wet & Forget sounds like a good thing to try.

    LESLIE: Say, are you in the market for some new bedding? Well, you might be surprised when you look at the prices. Before you go dropping a boatload of cash on expensive sheets, you need to know which sheets are worth the extra money for those extra Zs and how valuable those Zs are to you. We’re going to tell you about it, after this.

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

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And you can get more Money Pit whenever you like it and wherever you like on Facebook. Just head to and click Like. Going to get some tips on prizes, projects there.

    And while you’re at it, you can post your question, just like Devon did from Iowa who writes: “My house was built in 2013 and I want to ensure a dry basement for many, many years, especially since I plan to convert it into usable living space. Precautions I’ve already taken include sloping the yard, no landscaping around the perimeter, great gutters and drainage. And one last step before finishing it is waterproof paint. Is it worth the time and the expense?”

    TOM: In your situation, Devon, it absolutely is worth it because, and only because, you’ve done everything else right: you’ve sloped your grade away from the house, you’ve got gutters, you’re extending the downspouts. And that’s a situation where I do recommend damp-proofing paint, because the only thing left is sort of the natural soil moisture. And if you put damp-proofing paint on the block walls, you’re going to have less evaporation of that moisture into the basement area, which is what makes it feel damp.

    So because you’ve done everything else right, I do think it’s a good idea to add the damp-proofing paint. There’s a variety of formulations out there. Choose a good name-brand product. Put on a couple of coats of that, let it dry thoroughly and you’ll be good to go.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that basement project. It sounds like it’s going to be a really nice, extra space in your home.

    TOM: Well, with the busy schedules that most of us maintain right now, we have to fight hard to put down the smartphone, shut the laptop and just go to bed. Once we finally get there, we need the best sleep we can get. Leslie tells us how to do just that, in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, one key factor that I think a lot of people forget about is that luxury bedding can really go a long way towards getting a good night’s sleep. But wading through all of those thread counts and fabrics really, in itself, is enough to make you take a nap.

    So, before you drop a lot of dollars, which is very possible on upscale linens, you need to know exactly what each one will offer and what their drawbacks are.

    So, first off, let’s talk about bamboo sheets. They aren’t just soft; in fact, they’re so soft that sometimes they’re compared to cashmere. And they’re actually going to get softer the longer you keep them. But if they’re from China – and most bamboo sheets are – there’s a chance that they could be coming from an uncertified factory. So, skip bamboo sheets if all this uncertainty about where they’re coming from will simply keep you awake at night, because we’re trying to get you some good night’s sleep.

    The other thing I think a lot of people hear about is organic Egyptian cotton sheets. They’re very sought after and with good reason. They’re very soft, durable and breathable, so they’re really good for a person who gets really warm in the middle of the night or is a night-sweater, like my six-year-old-son, Henry.

    But if you love the look of a crisp bed, you’re going to want to pass on the Egyptian cotton because it will wrinkle very easily and your bed is going to kind of always look unkempt. So unless you’re ironing that top sheet on a daily basis, you’re not going to be really happy with what the bed looks like.

    Now, as far as luxury sheets go, cultivated silk sheets, they are the ultimate in softness. But even if you can afford to splurge on this expensive bedding – and it is expensive – the long-term cost might be more than you bargained for. Because silk sheets, they are very easily damaged by a jagged toenail or fingernail or even just the rough skin on your heels or your elbows.

    And forget about using your washer or dryer to clean them. Silk sheets will need to be hand-washed or dry-cleaned and they have to be air-dried. So you might be losing some sleep just over the maintenance of that bedding in itself.

    TOM: Just doing the laundry.

    LESLIE: Seriously.

    TOM: I’m sure it’s all worth it. 888-666-3974.

    Coming up next time on The Money Pit, hardwood floors. They’re not going out of style anytime soon but there are new colors and wood finishes that are making their mark this year. We’re going to highlight some of the hottest floor colors of the season, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (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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