Cut Shocking Electric Bills with LED Bulbs, Reducing Heating and Cooling Costs, and How to Keep Stink Bugs Out of Your Home
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: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, because we are here to help you with your home improvement project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Coming up on today’s show, Halloween decorations might be everywhere but is the sight and smell of stink bugs also giving you the heebie-jeebies? I mean that’s really scary because it’s the season for those guys, too. They’re looking for warmth as the weather cools, so we’re going to have tips on how you can keep those stinkers out of your house.
LESLIE: Well, winter-heating costs are also good at sending a chill down your spine, even when your house is warm. If you’re sick of paying a bundle to heat your house, well, Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House is here and he’s got tips for spending less on your heating-and-cooling bills.
TOM: And you want another way to save energy? Well, make the switch to LED bulbs. If you’re not convinced, we’ve got the facts that will help you upgrade to this long-term, electricity-saving solution.
LESLIE: And one lucky caller this hour is going to win a prize pack from Dust-Off. We’ve got Dust-Off’s new ShopMate Wipes and they are a DIYer’s dream. They are tough enough to clean dirt and grease, grime and latex paint from work surfaces, tools and your hands.
TOM: It’s a prize worth $48. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Make that you. Pick up the phone and call us, right now, with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Ron in Rhode Island, you’ve got The Money Pit. What’s going on at your house?
RON: OK. I was calling because I represented a lot of seniors for many years. I’ve been retired for 22 years. I’m up there close to 80 and every now and then, I get questions from them that indicate that they like to save some money. A lot of them are living on Social Security and small pensions.
And they’re saying rather than have their roof shingles changed, they’ve heard about this for the last three or four years – called “roof coat.” And now I’ve been told that there’s been five or six or eight colors now instead of two or three in the past. And it has a grit in it so you won’t slip, so it isn’t like a paint, really.
But it seals and it gives you a new coating that you don’t have to change your roof shingles, if there’s any grit on it at all that’s left, of course. And you don’t have to throw it and they’re environmentally safe and doesn’t cost you all that extra money.
TOM: So, Ron, it all sounds great. The truth is, though, in my experience, it’s a scam. I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector and I can tell you that roof-coat scam has been going on for a lot longer than that.
Generally, what happens is a contractor will come in and they’ll sell you on the idea of coating the roof versus replacing it. But it’s essentially a thick paint. And I don’t think there’s enough data to show that it actually extends the roof life. I don’t think you’ll find a single manufacturer of roofing shingles that thinks it’s a good idea and I generally advise against it.
I think there’s really no excuse – there’s really no way to compare the roof coating with new shingles. And you should definitely think about replacing the shingles or at least putting a second layer on shingles, if you can afford to do that.
I will say that, many times, when contractors come in to respond to leaks, they try to sell new roofs when only a minor repair is needed. But that’s part and parcel of what many seniors deal with when dealing with any type of contractor.
But I don’t think this roof coating is a good idea. I don’t think the technology has proven that it’s going to really work. And it looks good in the short term but I just don’t think you get any value out of it.
Ron, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Erica in Louisiana, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
ERICA: I’m calling about a concrete-slab house that is completely built with cinder blocks, with the exception of the upstairs portion of the house. I have some cracks that are starting. And I live in Louisiana and sometimes we have a lot of rain. But the cracks are – I also have galvanized piping that has to go through them, I guess, the conduit? They have to match in order to go into the concrete wall. And I think that that’s what started the cracking in the beginning but the house was built in the 1940s.
TOM: Well, there’s probably a lot more than just the pipe going through the wall that started the cracks. Houses built in the 1940s are going to have a lot of movement over the year.
The thing is, as you mentioned, with all the water and the driving rain, you just want to seal that out as much as you can do to keep that rain out. It’s going to help preserve and protect those walls.
So in your case, if the crack is sort of from a hairline to a ¼-inch, I would be using a masonry sealant – a masonry caulking compound. QUIKRETE has a big one – a good one – that works well. You want to make sure whatever sealant you use is paintable. So if you use something like silicone, you wouldn’t be able to paint it. But use a good, paintable caulk that’s designed for masonry and just stay on top of those cracks by filling them in with caulk whenever they tend to show up.
Now, if you get a lot of cracks and it’s an active, ongoing problem, then in that case you have to have the house looked at by an inspector or a structural expert to make sure there’s not a deeper issue going on. But if you’re just trying to maintain the few cracks that will – that show up in the 70-plus years since that house was built, caulk is all you really need.
ERICA: OK. Well, thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Erica. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Well, we are creeping close to the Halloween holiday. Give us a call if you need help making your money pit all spookified and fun and then, of course, cleaning up after the giant mess that usually happens that night. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, as the days get shorter and darker, you may be thinking about making a change to LED bulbs. If you are, you probably are also wondering if they’ll really save you money. We’ve got the facts to help you make that switch, next.
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: Giving away a great prize if you pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’ve got the Dust-Off Prize Pack, including the ShopMate Wipes and the ShopMate Dusters. Very, very cool products.
LESLIE: The ShopMate Wipes, come on, these are like a DIYer’s dream. They are going to get grease, paint and dirt all gone with one quick swipe. That’s going to save you a ton of time during the cleanup process.
And the ShopMate Wipes dispense right from a handy, upright tub that’s going to include 40 pre-moistened wipes. And you compare them with the Dust-Off ShopMate Duster and that’ll get rid of dust and debris from all those hard-to-reach areas in your workshop and on your tools. This is just handy to have.
TOM: They’re worth 48 bucks, this prize package. Going out to one lucky caller drawn at random, so let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: John in Kansas is on the line with an insulation question. What can we do for you today?
JOHN: Yes, I have a situation on a vaulted section over my living room. And it has no insulation in it; it’s sheetrocked. And I had one insulation outfit come in and say they could blow insulation down in there in what they call a “hard pack” or something. It has no vapor barrier. Is that possible and is that a good way to go about it without having to take down the sheetrock and insulate it?
TOM: I think it’s probably a really bad idea because you’re not going to have any airflow in there. And whatever insulation you put in there is going to get damp and wet and potentially rot.
Now, is there any insulation in that space right now whatsoever?
TOM: So you have a vaulted ceiling with absolutely no insulation. It’s covered with drywall now?
TOM: That’d be very odd that you would have no insulation whatsoever. Usually, you have not enough insulation.
JOHN: Well, it was a project that was started and incompleted. And I kind of assumed, you know, to finish it up and I noticed there was no insulation over that section of the roof.
TOM: So, let me ask you a question: how big is this vaulted ceiling that you’re looking at?
JOHN: It goes up 8 feet and flattens off over 8 feet and then back down the other wall 8 feet.
TOM: So, it’s only like 8×8?
JOHN: It’s 24-foot long room and the vault goes up, running feet, about 8 feet. And then it has about 8 running feet of flat and then back down the other side to match 8 feet.
TOM: Alright. So here’s a question: would you like to have a really effective insulation system installed in that ceiling? I mean super effective, like this will make a major impact on your bills kind of effective?
If so, what you’re going to need to do is remove the drywall. I would recommend you remove the drywall ceiling and then have spray foam installed.
TOM: Spray foam, you need less inches of it, in terms of the depth, to develop – to deliver the same R-value that you would need many more inches to do with fiberglass. And it doesn’t need ventilation. So, the spray foam could be installed in that ceiling and really make it super warm and comfortable. And then you could replace the drywall.
Now, depending on how much spray foam you want to put in there, what R-value you want to get – for example, if you put 8 inches of spray foam, that would give you an R-30. But if you wanted to go more than that, it actually may end up being deeper than the ceiling joists themselves. What you could do is add sort of an extension to the bottom of those ceiling joists to pick up some additional depth and fill that whole bay up with the spray foam.
Then once you put the drywall on, you’ll see that there’s going to be a huge difference there, because now you’ve got a space that’s – you’ve converted that sort of area from a conditioned space to a non-conditioned space in which you don’t need any ventilation. And not only will it keep the warm air – the heat – in, it will keep cold air from getting in because it seals and insulates when you use spray foam.
We’ve got a great guidebook on our website. There’s a free download. It’s called The Money Pit Guide to Insulation. And it gives you the pluses and minuses of the four or five main types of insulation that’s out there. Why don’t you download that? Take a look and you can make your decision from there.
JOHN: Well, I appreciate you taking my call.
TOM: You’re welcome, sir. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’ve been thinking about going with LED bulbs at home but you’re not sure about the cost savings, we’ve found that upgrading to LED bulbs these days is really a great way to save money. And that’s mainly because LED bulbs now use significantly less energy and they can last for decades.
LESLIE: Yeah. Maybe you’ve been a little put off by the price of LEDs. I know I was when they first came out. But now, the cost has come way down in just the past year. And you don’t need to buy a ton of bulbs to start seeing that savings.
TOM: That’s right. So, to get started, replace bulbs in the lights that you use most often. Or think about replacing the light bulbs in the ones that stay on the most. Replacing these first will have the biggest, immediate impact on your energy savings. From there, you can replace the old bulbs with LEDs on fixtures that have multiple bulbs. And this way, you’ll maximize that savings.
LESLIE: Yeah. And finally, to make sure that you get the best results from your new LED bulbs, you want to make sure that they are rated for the specific use or fixture.
So, for example, if you’re using a dimmer, make sure it’s a type that works with LED bulbs.
TOM: Good advice. This LED tip is presented by The Home Depot, the destination for all things LED, from work lights and fixtures to bulbs and even LED holiday lights. Remember we said costs for these bulbs were down? Well, check out the EcoSmart LED 60-watt equivalent. A 4-pack costs less than 20 bucks.
Visit HomeDepot.com to learn more.
LESLIE: Alright. Dorothy in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
DOROTHY: I respect all life but when you have a centipede crawling up a wall, that left the basement coming up into the house, it looks very ugly and scary. I understand they’re carnivores, so maybe they’d eat other bugs but I don’t really know how to get rid of them. And also, I’d like to know about crickets, how I can catch them.
LESLIE: What kind of crickets are you talking about? Those weird-looking ones that hop and they’re like gigantic in your basement? They look like prehistoric?
DOROTHY: The black ones that live outside but as soon as it turns cold, they come in and you hear them singing in your garage.
LESLIE: Oh, OK. And you don’t want to kill anything, correct?
DOROTHY: Well, I guess I could. But personally, I have a pet that eats crickets. I’d like to catch them. I read on the internet – I can’t seem to come up with a way to capture them. And we’re – I’d like to catch them and get them out.
The centipedes, I’m open to, you know, extermination.
LESLIE: Well, I was going to say, for your basement, I would start by making sure that everything is sealed off. So you have anything that protrudes through the foundation wall – dryer vents, anything – make sure that it’s all sealed around. Anything can come in through the tiniest opening. So whether you use an expandable foam or a steel wool, you want to make a combination of things to close up every opening that you see, because that’s how they’re getting in.
Now, once you’ve done that, if you see a centipede in the house, I would suggest – you could take a vacuum and you can put a piece of pantyhose at the end of the intake hose. So before it gets into the bag or gets into the area, it gets caught in that little piece of pantyhose.
DOROTHY: Oh, that’s a good idea.
LESLIE: And you can vacuum them into the pantyhose and then release them into the wild or whatever you like or feed the crickets to your lizard or snake friend.
Now, as far as the crickets in the garage, I would do the same. I’d make sure everything is sealed up. I don’t know of any sort of traps that you can place and leave and go and then collect any of the crickets. I’ve done – and I’ve seen this done with bait – with people who have crickets in the basement, specifically the cave crickets. They take tape and lay it sticky-side up around the entire perimeter of the room. And then the crickets, when they crawl in under the walls, they get stuck to the tape.
Now, they’re still alive stuck to the tape. I would usually think people throw away the tape but you might be able to, I don’t know, feed them to your friend that way?
DOROTHY: Right. OK. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alan in Ohio is on the line with a flooring question. What can we help you with?
ALAN: Working on my upstairs floor. And it had carpet up there before. The intention was – the project was to take the carpet away and put in hardwood floors. And so when we took the – when I took the carpet up, I found asbestos tile underneath, the 8×8-inch square. That asbestos tile?
LESLIE: Green, brown and black?
ALAN: Pretty much just brown and black. And so, that’s part one of my question. I’ve heard or read online that if it’s not damaged, it’s OK to leave it in the home. Just cover it back up. And I wanted to get some advice on that first.
TOM: Yeah, I think the less you disturb it the better. So if it’s not causing any issues, you can leave it in place and put new carpet on top of it. But where exactly was this carpet again?
ALAN: It’s on the second floor of the home.
TOM: OK. Yeah, just leave it in place and put new carpet down on top of it.
ALAN: My original plan was to put hardwood floors up there.
TOM: OK. I think that’s probably OK, as well. If you take a look at the prefabricated hardwood floors today, they actually don’t even need to be nailed together; they lock together. Especially the engineered hardwood. And that means you’ll have less disturbance in that floor.
ALAN: OK. I have actually bought the plank flooring, which has to be nailed down. So I didn’t know if you just had any advice on how to – obviously, I’m going to be putting an underlayment down before I put the hardwood floors on. But I didn’t know if you had any advice, other than that, of an additional way to cover it up.
TOM: What’s under the tile right now? Why are you putting the underlayment down? Because I’m not sure that that’s really going to be necessary.
ALAN: What’s under the tile now is just subfloor.
TOM: Yeah. Then I don’t think you need to put underlayment down. If you’ve got full plank-thickness hardwood, you can just put that down.
ALAN: Well, I think the underlayment is to help reduce noise from upstairs to downstairs.
TOM: So are you using engineered-hardwood floor here?
TOM: So you’ve got an underlayment that has to go under a nail-down floor? I’m not really familiar with that. And I don’t think it’s going to contribute in any way to soundproofing, by the way.
ALAN: OK. Well, that helps with that part of the question. The other part of the question is the floor is – it’s not flat. Over a 10-inch or 2-foot run, it drops about an inch in some places. And it’s really just where the house settled above the beam in the basement.
TOM: So there’s something called a “floor-leveling compound” that you can mix up and add to that and trowel into its place.
ALAN: So that’s my question. On the back of the box – it’s Bruce flooring. It says, “Do not use leveling compound.” And so, I was – I’m at a loss, a little bit, on what to do to level the floor.
TOM: OK. Well, if they don’t want you to use leveling compound, then you have to do this the old-fashioned way and that is by basically building this up with real wood material. Now, what you could do is you could use a combination of shims or very thin plywood and try to build this up as flat as possible and then install the flooring on top of that. Just be careful that you don’t create a situation where the floor sort of tries to bend or turn on this uneven section.
So, for example, you would never want the floors to go sort of parallel with the drop-off, because then the board is going to sort of bend downward and open up and cause a gap.
ALAN: That’s what my concern is, too. So, OK. Looks like going the old-fashioned way.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Coming up, are you sick of paying a fortune just to keep your house warm? Well, relief is on the way. Richard Trethewey from This Old House is here when we return with tips for cutting those heating-and-cooling costs.
TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by the STANLEY Smart-Measure Pro. Bluetooth-enabled for quick and easy measurements, right from your smartphone. Snap, measure, share.
We’ll be back with more of The Money Pit, after this.
MARILU: Hi. This is Marilu Henner from The Marilu Henner Show. And I’m obsessed with these guys. You’re listening to The Money Pit, my buddies Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Hey, do you have about, say, maybe a half-hour of free time? Well, don’t sit through that TV rerun you’ve seen a dozen times. Give your home a boost instead. Thirty minutes is all you need to make important updates and fixes that can spare headaches later. We’ll prove it. Check out our “30 Home Maintenance Tips That Take 30 Minutes or Less” on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Elizabeth in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ELIZABETH: I have an outdoor shower and all of a sudden, the pressure just went very, very low. So I didn’t know what to do with it.
LESLIE: And it’s the only fixture that the pressure has changed on?
ELIZABETH: The rest of the – my hoses are fine outside. Inside is fine.
LESLIE: Well, have you thought about taking the showerhead off and sort of disassembling it? Because you may have just some sort of sediment or something that’s come in through the pipe and just sort of lodged itself at where the water outflow would come?
So if you unscrew the showerhead, then sort of start taking that aerator apart – but remember the order in which you’re taking things out, because it’s got to go back in, obviously, in the opposite order. And I would just start taking things out and rinsing things off, because there could be just some debris – I mean especially if it’s an outdoor shower – just something clogging it up in there. And that usually does the trick. I would start there. Just make sure you put it all back in the correct order and it’ll work fine.
ELIZABETH: I love the outdoor shower. It’s the greatest.
TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, almost a half of energy consumption at home goes to heating and cooling it. So it’s really no surprise that a vast number of those of you that call into our show are always looking for ways to get those costs down.
TOM: Well, the fact is the simplest solutions are often the first to be overlooked. Here with some very easy ways to reduce energy costs is This Old House plumbing-and-heating contractor Richard Trethewey.
RICHARD: Hi, guys. Nice to be back here with you.
TOM: So, it’s always amazing to me how many homeowners don’t even have the basics right, like insulation. In fact, sometimes I’m amused by those that call and ask about installing a wind generator or some other equally complicated system to save energy. And I ask them, “How much insulation do you have?” And they say, “I don’t know.”
RICHARD: Yeah. Not much. Well, making smart decisions about your home’s insulation, as well as your HVAC – your heating, ventilating and air-conditioner system – can really have a big effect on your utility bills and your comfort.
TOM: So, insulation is probably a good place to start, right?
RICHARD: Well, I often joke with people. I say, “Insulating is like washing your feet. You can’t do it enough, you know?” So you’ve really got to think about just how much can I insulate. And you want to make sure that up in your attic, you can get up as high as you can: R-30, R-40.
In the old days, we would live with R-19 and think we were doing good. But the fact is, the more you insulate, the more you keep the heat inside the building and also the more you keep the heat outside the building in the summer. You’ve got to realize that it’s good for both seasons and in all climates. There’s nowhere that you shouldn’t insulate.
TOM: Now, let’s talk about your heating equipment. I think a lot of folks think, “If I ran it last year, I’m just going to throw the thermostat on. It’s going to run this year. I’m done.” But just like a car, if you don’t tune it up, it’s pretty inefficient, right? Or it can become dangerous.
RICHARD: This mechanical device works as hard as anything in your life. It has to be on and off, on and off, on and off. And any mechanical device, over time, starts to wear down, starts to get less efficient. And so, people will say, “Oh, this system is not that old. It’s been in, what, since Sally was born.” “How old is Sally?” “Well, she’s 50.” You know what I mean? It is time to look at a newer, higher efficiency.
But you also don’t do strictly the most efficient thing. What drives me crazy is people will go and put a brand-new HVAC system in but then you look and you look up in their attic and all of their ductwork is exactly in the wrong place. The insulation is – the attic is uninsulated. So now, what are you doing? You are trying to heat and cool a building by sending ductwork up that literally is outside in the winter and outside in the summer.
RICHARD: The number-one thing that I keep harping to people is find a way to bring your heating-and-cooling system inside the building.
What happens is the builders want to insulate at the second-floor ceiling level, because it’s cheaper. If you’re going to put the ductwork up in the attic, you need to find a way to insulate the ridge, the angled part of your roof. And if you’re going to insulate, you need to ventilate. You need a way to get fresh air in so that you don’t have – so insulated that you’re going to have ductwork issues.
TOM: Now, what about tuning the equipment up? That’s got to be very important.
RICHARD: Well, tuning, some of the modern equipment is pretty efficient. In the old days, with oil and some wide-open gas flames, you had to make sure you went there every year and cleaned it. I still like to see a professional look at any heating device once a year but it’s a little more forgiving than – as long as you keep your combustion air clean.
The people that have their houses next to some place where there’s a fair amount of dust and dirt coming in, you bring dirty air – there’s three things you need for combustion: you need fuel, you need a spark and you need air. And if one of those things is filled with dirt, the entire combustion process is bad. But if you’re in a place where it’s relatively clean – I’d like to see it serviced once a year; most people do it at least every other year.
LESLIE: So, keeping that clean air, does that sort of work more efficiently if you’re updating the filter, say, every month or annually, depending on the type of filter that you’re using?
TOM: Well, Leslie, those are the filters – I think when you – people think about filters on air-conditioning or heating units. That is the air that is going to come in from the house to be heated and then go back to the house in …
LESLIE: In the return duct.
RICHARD: Correct. Those have to be kept clean, as well. If you have got pets, pets are the number-one bane of an air-conditioning or heating system, because those loose dog and cat hairs get pulled up against the filter. And over time, that filter now becomes more dense and air can’t pass through it. Now, you’ve got an air-conditioning or a heating unit that’s starved for airflow. So now, if there’s not enough air going across that heat exchanger that gets hot, now the heat exchanger gets hotter than it should.
RICHARD: And now you’ve got metal expansion and you have the thing start to fail prematurely. So you’ve got to keep your filters clean on the air side. But the first point I made was about you’ve got to try to protect that the air that is being burned in the combustion chamber is also …
LESLIE: So coming in from the outside.
RICHARD: Absolutely. You know, people that are right next to the highway or near the fields where they’re growing corn and stuff like that, where all that dust and stuff is coming in, it wreaks havoc on the combustion process.
TOM: Now, if you’re thinking about upgrading your heating-and-cooling equipment, now is a really good time, isn’t it? I mean the energy efficiency of systems has really gone up significantly over the last decade, hasn’t it?
RICHARD: We never dreamt that we could get this efficient. It used to be you were happy to have 70-percent efficiency – 70 cents out of every dollar. Now we have devices that are – 94, 95, 96 cents out of every dollar becomes usable heat. So, yeah.
And you know what? If I was telling somebody about – what do you do? If you had $10,000 to put somewhere right now, you’re not going to put it into a passbook savings account, you’re not going to put it anywhere you’re going to make any money on it.
RICHARD: But if I could spend that 10,000, I could reduce my energy consumption by 25, 30, 35 percent. That’s better than any investment you can make, particularly if you’re staying in the house.
TOM: Good advice.
We’re talking with Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House.
One area of HVAC that I think folks overlook is their duct system and the leakiness of the duct system. There’s some new technologies out today that can help you seal that up, aren’t there?
RICHARD: I use the term “ductsmanship.” We have terrible ductsmanship, in general. There are people that are doing it beautifully. But I think people realize when they first put a duct in – “Eh, if it leaks a little, ah, that’s just air that’s going to stay in the building.” But what you really want to do is have the air that goes into those ducts stay in the ducts and go right to the rooms they were designed for and then be – come back and be reheated or recooled, then go right back around again.
We have duct leakage that is 25 and 30 percent, meaning that the air never makes it back to be reheated. So, in the old days, all you had as a choice was to go around with this duct mastic: a bucket of this elastomer goop. And you tried to pull the insulation and try to paint up every corner.
We did a piece on Ask This Old House this year where – this fascinating technology where you could spray this aerosol or atomized spray – a professional does it. You don’t – homeowners don’t do it. But it would literally find every single duct leak and seal them shut so that now you’ve made this unbelievably airtight air distribution.
And duct leakage is a big deal. It causes the building to be out of pressure. It causes – it increases loss to outside but it also increases mold and mildew because air is going the wrong places.
TOM: Wow. Great advice. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House. Lots and lots of ways to step up our energy efficiency and save on those heating-and-cooling dollars.
RICHARD: We can do better.
LESLIE: Alright. You can 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 ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you on PBS by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.
Still ahead, they’re creepy and they’re smelly. Stink bugs are on their way, looking for shelter as temperatures cool off. But there are steps you can take to keep them out of your home. We’ll tell you how, after this.
TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, call us, right now, with your home improvement question, your décor dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
If you do, you may win the Dust-Off Prize Pack that we’ve got, including the ShopMate Wipes and the ShopMate Dusters. They’re very cool. They’re going to help you clean up all sorts of stuff around your house. They clean off paint and oil and grease and yuck. So, they’re available at Best Buy, Staples and Costco and many more retailers. But we’ve got a complete set of both the wipes and the dusters.
This package is worth 48 bucks. Going to one lucky caller drawn at random, so make that you. Pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, they’re pretty creepy to look at and they’re not any better on the nose. Stink bugs are pests that emit a distinct odor for protection against predators.
LESLIE: They’re harmless but that doesn’t mean you want them and their smell hanging out underfoot. Now is the time of year that stink bugs are looking for shelter and warmth. So take a few key steps to keep them out of your house.
TOM: Prevent a stink-bug infestation by sealing all cracks and crevices in and around your home. And as an extra measure, install weather-stripping under interior doors.
LESLIE: Protect vents and attics and crawlspaces with screening. And make sure all screens on windows are in good repair.
Also, store any outdoor chopped firewood on a rack, away from your home’s exterior walls. And remove any boards, boxes or other possible stink-bug hideouts from your yard or garden.
TOM: And finally, as the summer yard-care season winds down, keep weeds and grass trimmed around fences and drainage ditches where stink bugs love to congregate. It helps keep those bugs away from not only your house but your yard, too.
LESLIE: Cindy is on the line from Nebraska with an air-conditioning question. How can we help you?
CINDY: Yes, I have central air but our upstairs does not cool very well. So we put in a window air and I’ve tried to seal it with some of those foam strips and tape and things like that. But now I’ve got some issues. Like when it rains, for some reason we’re getting water soaking through the tape and coming inside and dripping. What other thing can I use to seal that that would be more waterproof but still I’d be able to take it out?
TOM: Wow. So typically, when you install a window air conditioner, you have the window – the upper part of the double-hung window sits on top of the box and then it has sort of like wings that slide out the side of the air conditioner to kind of seal out the space between the air conditioner and the opening of the window, correct?
TOM: Alright. And so you’ve sealed those areas with tape? Is that what you said?
CINDY: We used some strips of foam that you put around it to fill in the gaps. So we’ve got – the wings are all stretched out and then we’ve sealed, where we have spaces, with the foam strips.
TOM: Here’s what I do. There’s a product that is a temporary weather-stripping that looks like caulk; it comes in a caulking tube. Now, typically, you use this inside your house for really, really drafty windows and you almost caulk them shut with this product. But you can use it in a scenario like this. I think for the summer it would probably last fine. When it dries, it kind of looks like a silicone caulk; it’s clear. But the cool thing is that when you’re ready to pull out that air conditioner, you can peel this temporary caulk off.
Now, it’s made by a number of manufacturers. I think DAP makes – Seal ‘N Peel is the brand name that they came up with. Seal – S-e-a-l – ‘N Peel. And so take a look for that temporary weather-stripping caulk, search it out online. You may have to order it at a hardware store or a home center. And that will be much more effective than the tape, because you’ll be able to get it into those tight places and it will really stick there and keep that water out, OK?
CINDY: That sounds perfect. Thank you very much.
TOM: There you go. Sometimes, you’ve got to come up with a creative solution to an unusual problem.
CINDY: I figured there had to be something. I just didn’t know what it was.
LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.
Coming up, you’ve heard the saying “mirror, mirror on the wall,” but you’ve probably never heard how to get that mirror off of the wall when time is up. It’s a tricky job but one that you can do yourself if you do it right. Tips for removing a mounted wall mirror, when The Money Pit returnsafter this.
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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.
Well, cold winter weather, it’s on its way, guys. Is your yard ready? It’s not too late for winterization that’s going to have your yard looking lush and green in the springtime. Check out Money Pit’s advice for repairing your lawn for the winter season. It’s all right on our home page at MoneyPit.com.
TOM: And you can also post your question to The Money Pit’s Community section or our Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, just like Celia did. And Celia has got a mirror issue. She says, “My mounted bathroom mirror is wedged in and glued to the wall. It extends more than 8 feet across and it’s 3½ feet from top to bottom.”
Wow, that’s a big mirror. She wants to remove it and replace it with framed mirrors but has no idea on how to get it off the wall. What’s the best way to do this?
LESLIE: Ooh, there’s a great trick.
TOM: Yeah, there sure is. I mean you’re wise to use caution, first of all, because it could be dangerous. You can use one of two methods but both are going to require repairing your drywall after the fact. If they’re done correct, though, you can do it without injury or headaches. And you can also leave that mirror in one piece.
So, the first method involves buying a length of cutout wire that’s longer than the width of your mirror. Now, cutout wire is also called “windshield-removal wire” because it’s also used by auto-body shops to help repair windshields. Now, next you want to put a clear packing tape over the entire mirror to minimize the mess and the risk of injury if it breaks. Then you stretch that wire tight and you slide it between the back of the mirror and the drywall, with at least two other people holding that mirror in case it falls. Wiggle that wire back and forth until the mirror dislodges.
Now, the second method requires using a drywall saw. You simply push the saw into the wall, near the edge of the mirror, and basically remove the drywall with the mirror glued to it. This is a little safer of the two methods but only go with this one if you’re fully prepared to replace the drywall anyway.
And remember, don’t attempt this without a few strong hands there to help. Because it’s a darn, heavy mirror once it finally decides to fall away from that wall.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Mike who writes: “I’m thinking about adding vinyl siding to my summer home in New England. The house has wood shingles on it right now. I’ve been getting estimates from several contractors. Some say that the wood shingles have to come off but others say that the shingles must stay on. Who is right?”
TOM: Well, the best approach is always to remove the old shingles. And there’s a number of reasons for that. If you layer the vinyl siding on top of the shingles, you’re going to add depth, as a result, in the windows and the doors, kind of being set very unusually far back. It just doesn’t look right, Mike.
So, there’s really no benefit to leaving those shingles on. They add no insulation value whatsoever. Plus, the vinyl siding is going to appear much smoother without those old shingles underneath. I can almost always tell when vinyl has been installed on top of old siding, because it really looks awful. The windows are off, the vinyl is all sort of wobbly and it’s just really bad practice.
And putting it on top of old asbestos shingles, that’s even worse because it makes it almost impossible to get those asbestos shingles off without having a major environmental mess on your hands.
LESLIE: Yeah. Really, you want to do it right. Plus, if you’re having any issues with insulation, you’ve got a good opportunity there to make any changes with any sort of house wraps or foam insulation, sheet foam. This is the time to do it.
TOM: Yeah. Or you can even blow in insulation from the outside once the siding is off.
LESLIE: Don’t cut corners. Do it right, do it once and really enjoy the benefits.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and some advice on how to improve your money pit. Remember, you can reach us, 24/7, at 888-MONEY-PIT or on our website at MoneyPit.com.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(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.)