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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are standing by to help you with your home improvement projects. We want to solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas. If you are a do-it-yourselfer or a direct-it-yourselfer, we just want to make sure you don’t become a do-it-to-yourselfer. So pick up the phone and give us a call. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a great show coming up this hour. As we edge closer to the spring home improvement season, it’s a good time to talk about the top decorating trends. We’ve got them all, from retro to glam. We’ll have those details, coming up.

    Plus, we’ve got Roger Cook. He is the landscaping contractor from TV’s This Old House. He’s going to give us some tips on how to create the perfect landscape plan so that you will be ready to go, well ahead of the spring planting season. And also ahead, did you know that the average American home is complete with no less than two dozen electronic gadgets? We’ve got tips to help you keep all those cords and chargers straight.

    And this week, we’re giving away a great prize. It’s $500 worth of beautiful custom shades from Simple Fit. If you’d like to win that package, pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We will toss your name in The Money Pit hard hat and if we choose you at the end of today’s show, we’ll be sending you those beautiful custom shades from Simple Fit. So, let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Robin in Oregon who’s dealing with some mold issues. Tell us what’s going on.

    ROBIN: In our bathroom, there just seems to be a lot of moisture. I don’t know if the exhaust fan is working properly or not. On one of your shows, you’d mentioned Concrobium, so I sprayed that in the shower and that seems to help stave it off. But we use a fan, we use the exhaust fan and we use a dehumidifier.

    And I noticed on the outside, I guess, outtake vents, there’s a whole bunch of black stuff. And then also in our sinks, underneath the faucet, there’s mold back in behind that hole. So I’m wondering, is this going to be a health concern or how do I stop some of this mold?

    TOM: Well, I mean the solution comes down to managing moisture and it sounds like you’re doing the right things. But one common mistake that people make with exhaust fans is that they don’t leave them on long enough after you take a bath or a shower. They really have to stay on, sometimes, 15 or 20 minutes to properly dry out the room.

    ROBIN: Well, I know – well, I can’t speak for my husband but I know that I do, just because I’ve got a fan running, I’ve got a dehumidifier and I’ve – we’ve also got the exhaust fan and it is the biggest one that you can have. And I’m wondering if just because of our moist area we need to get two of them so it’s directly over the shower? I don’t know. But I’m worried that through the whole pipe that leads to the outside, is that all filled with mold in there if the outside vent shows mold?

    TOM: Well, the vent that’s taking the air from the bathroom out, is that what you’re seeing on the outside wall?

    ROBIN: I’m not seeing on the wall, just on the vent itself, you know where the – I guess where the air goes out to the outside? That whole vent is all moldy looking.

    TOM: Well, a lot of people look at vents that are dirty and call it mold. I think it would be unusual for it to be moldy, because you would have to have a pretty strong food source there. And the only thing you’re going to have coming out that vent is a bit of dust, which could be a mold source but it’s very unusual for it to really develop. So I think you might just be seeing a dirty vent. It’s much more likely that what you’re seeing there is dirt and not mold.

    But I would say this: if you want to eliminate the possibility of moisture inside the bathroom, what you want to do is you want to make sure that the exhaust fan – the bathroom fan – is wired to a humidistat.

    And if you take a look at the fans that are made by Broan-NuTone, they actually have a new one coming out, I know, that has a humidistatic control. And I think they have some others, as well. We just saw one last week, though, at a major trade show called the International Builders’ Show that they were releasing for the first time.

    But if you get one of these fans that’s got a humidistatic control in it, then you don’t have to worry about whether or not somebody’s leaving it on or not. It just stays on until the moisture goes down and then automatically goes off. So, it kind of takes you out of the equation.

    ROBIN: OK.

    TOM: And your husband. Because he could be the problem.

    ROBIN: I don’t have to be a grouch and say, “Turn that back on.” OK.

    TOM: You do not. You do not.

    ROBIN: Alright. Well, I will try those. And the Concrobium is working great in the shower, so that was an excellent tip from before.

    TOM: Our pleasure. Glad it worked out for you. Robin, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Tony in Iowa is having a hot-and-cold water situation. What’s going on?

    TONY: Well, I’ve got an electric water heater. And the main feed that comes in from the city, that goes into my electric water heater, it’s a cold line. But yeah, I get cold water to come out of my faucets and everything but that cold water line, up around through the water heater there, it’s hot, the line, when I touch it. And I’m just curious what’s going on with that.

    TOM: So, you have an electric water heater and that’s going to be fed by a cold-water line and it’s going to go through the water heater and come out as a hot-water line.

    TONY: That’s correct.

    TOM: OK. And so what’s the problem? So far, it’s normal.

    TONY: The water line that goes into the water heater – the cold water?

    TOM: Yes. Yep.

    TONY: That line is hot.

    TOM: Well, some of the heat from the water heater can be working its way back up the pipe. So you may be feeling some conductive heat that comes from – the hot water in the water heater itself could be making that pipe warm. But if you go farther down the line, you’re going to feel that it’s cold again.

    It goes in cold and comes out hot but the fitting right around the top might feel like it’s a bit warm. But that’s only because of the conductive heat of the water in the water heater coming back up the metal pipe.

    TONY: OK. That alleviates my concerns then.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, we’ve got the dirt on the top decorating trends for 2013 and how you can incorporate these ideas into your home.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

    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: Hey, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just win a set of custom Simple Fit cellular shades.

    Now, these shades can be installed in less than a minute, with no tools. And they come in 5 fabrics and 30 different colors. The prize package is worth 500 bucks. You can check them out at SimpleFitCustomShades.com or call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Eva in Florida is on the line and has a cooling question. How can we help you today?

    EVA: My home is 40 years old and I’ve been in it from the time it was built. I’ve had two change-outs on the air-conditioning unit.

    TOM: That’s about right.

    EVA: It’s a central air-conditioning unit. And every time these guys come in – I have one guy come in once every six or eight months to check the cooling or the heating unit to make sure everything is up to snuff. And every time they come in, they say, “Well, you ought to update your thermostat.” And I’ve had them tell me three or four times that I need to replace my thermostat.

    Well, I had a friend of mine who tells me – he says, “Well” – he said, “Basically, all your thermostat does – heat, cool and shut off.”

    TOM: So, I think what – have they mentioned to you that you might want to install a clock setback thermostat, Eva?

    EVA: Well, they just said thermostats; they didn’t tell me any particular kind.

    TOM: I’m betting that you have a very simple thermostat, which is heating and cooling, and you just set it and forget it, right?

    EVA: That’s correct.

    TOM: So what they might be suggesting is that you replace the old thermostat with an updated one that has a clock setback built into that. And how that can help you – and it helps you more in the cooling – in the winter season, which you don’t get a lot of down in Pensacola. But when it gets chillier, you can set the heat to be a certain temperature at the day and then another temperature at night, so you don’t waste heat at night when you’re tucked nice and warm and cozy under the comfort of the blankets.

    EVA: Yeah. But I just leave my thermostat at one – at 70 degrees at night. I don’t change it.

    TOM: Well, if you just leave it and you don’t change it, then you might be fine with that 40-year-old thermostat. If you want the technology and the energy savings of a thermostat that can go up and down, based on a clock, then you would go to a clock setback. But there’s nothing wrong with leaving the one you have if it’s working properly for you.

    EVA: And is it – either way, I’m going to use the same amount financially?

    LESLIE: If you’re truly just leaving it exactly where it is?

    EVA: Yeah. But when I get up in the morning, I have to turn it on so that it comes back up to warm up the house.

    LESLIE: Correct. If you’ve got a clock setback thermostat or a programmable thermostat, you can enter in your usage. So you can say, “OK, at 7:00 in the morning or 6:00 in the morning” – whatever time, maybe a half-an-hour or so before you know you’re going to get up – “set it to such-and-such temperature.” And then you can say, “OK. And then at this time, when I go to bed, drop it down to this temperature.” This way, you never even have to go over to the thermostat. You can just say, “Bloop” and it’ll do that program for the day, so you don’t have to do anything at all.

    Then, say, you’re going on vacation or you’re out of town, you can have an “away” setting and set it to that so that you’ve got it, obviously, at much lower temperatures and it’s not running that program while you’re not there, wasting that energy and your dollars.

    So it depends. If you want to sort of take yourself out of the equation and have your thermostat do its thing on its own, a programmable thermostat really is what you’re looking for.

    EVA: Yeah, OK. Well, thank you very much, dear.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Leroy on the line who’s got a painting question. How can we help you today?

    LEROY: Yes, I had some water damage on my ceiling. It has left a stain on the ceiling in the bedroom. I was wondering, what can I do to repair that? I paint over it and it still comes through.

    TOM: Yeah, if you don’t prime it first, Leroy, it will come through. So the key is that you have to prime the stain spots, because the chemical reaction that occurs in the stained area absolutely has a way of pulling right through the topcoat of paint. So if you prime it and then paint over it, you’ll be OK.

    Now, I will say this: if you spot-prime it and then flat-paint over it, you may see a slightly different sheen, even though it’s a flat sheen, because the absorption rate is going to be different on the primed versus the non-primed spot. If you really want to do it right, you would prime the entire ceiling and then repaint the entire ceiling and then it would be completely invisible. But if you don’t prime it, you will see the stains pull through.

    LEROY: Great. Hey, thank you.

    TOM: Well, if you like to change the look of your home each season, you might be interested in the trend report for 2013 when it comes to décor. This year, the “in” look is retro and that could be in the form, for example, of black-and-white checkered floor tiles or even retro colors like gold and avocado green. Do you remember those kitchen appliances that we grew up with that were that color? Wow. It’s back.

    But here’s one thing that’s not back: shag carpet. You’ll be very happy to hear that that’s not making a return but you will see those retro colors in accessories, like pillows or vases. Also in, once again: chandeliers. They are in in the form of vintage, wrought-iron frames. And the new neutral color is kind of a surprise. It’s purple, while the color of the year is kelly green.

    Also hot in 2013 are wall decals. Now, you can use a few for just interest or they have them now where you can go all out with an entire wall mural that’s stick-on and peel off. I guess that’s just in case you get tired of it.

    And the great thing about all of these trends is that those changes are all pretty minor, which makes them easy to change out when they fall out of fashion next season.

    LESLIE: Anastasia in Colorado is on the line with a bathtub question. What’s going on?

    ANASTASIA: Well, I have a tub drain. Trying to get that out – the drain out ¬- because it’s – I can’t put a plug in it now. So, what I’ve tried is the drain-remover tool or it’s a plug wrench. And then I also tried that flaring tool to get it out and neither one of them works, because the little crosshairs in the bottom aren’t still in there, because it’s from 1960 tub.

    TOM: Oh. So you have nothing to grab onto. Is that what you’re saying?

    ANASTASIA: Yeah. So, I’ve tried to get WD-40 in there underneath the tray but I can’t reach under there. And then I could crawl under the house but I don’t want to do that. So I was trying to think of a better way of getting it out.

    TOM: If I understand it correctly, this normally would unscrew but what you’re driving – what you’re trying to grab onto is either stripped or completely gone.

    ANASTASIA: Correct.

    TOM: I have only two suggestions for you. Number one is to hire a plumber, which is probably – you didn’t need me to tell you that. But I will say that the plumbers are – deal with this kind of thing all the time. And secondly, if I was a plumber and I was faced with this and there was absolutely no other way to get this off, I would probably drill it off and chisel it away, which you can do with a cold chisel.

    And it’s not a pleasant process and it’s time-consuming and kind of a pain in the neck but when all else fails and you’ve just got nothing to grab onto, that’s a way to get it done.

    ANASTASIA: Alright. That’s what I thought but I thought you might have a little trick up your sleeve.

    TOM: But that’s a trick but it’s a lot of hard work. Anastasia, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: John in North Carolina needs some help with a garage floor. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOHN: My house is approximately seven years old and for the last two years, I’m getting a lot of powder coming up on the floor. I can sweep this garage out every other day and it’s like a dust storm. And parts of the garage floor, now it looks like 80-grit sandpaper.

    TOM: So the surface of the concrete is wearing away, it sounds like.

    JOHN: Yeah.

    TOM: So, you know a good solution for that is to use a concrete-resurfacing product on it.

    JOHN: OK.

    TOM: Made by a number of manufacturers. QUIKRETE, I know, has one that’s very good and it’s specifically designed to stick to the old concrete surface. So with that, you would probably clean it up – follow the label directions but you would clean up the dust and then apply the resurfacer to the whole surface. And then once that dries, that should lock in that deterioration and stop it from happening further.

    And then beyond that, you could go ahead and paint the garage floor, maybe with an epoxy paint. There are two-part epoxy paints that have a hardener mixed in with a color coat. And then they have a chip, like a color chip, that you can throw in that gives the floor some density and some depth to it.

    JOHN: I have a couple hot tire marks. Could I power-wash those off?

    TOM: Well, you want to be careful with the power washing. I mean if you’re going to use the resurfacer, as long as the surface is reasonably clean, I think you’d probably be able to go right on top of those. If you power-wash, you’re essentially going to inject that old concrete driveway with a lot of water and that’s going to take a long time to dry out. So I would rather the slab stay as dry as it can be and you not just blast it with a whole bunch of water right before you resurface it.

    JOHN: I appreciate it very much. I’ve been dealing with this now for three years. It’s been driving me buggy.

    TOM: Let’s take care of it this weekend, shall we, John?

    JOHN: It’s on top of my list.

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

    LESLIE: Bob in Washington is on the line with a roofing question. What can we do for you today?

    BOB: I’m looking at putting a roof on the home and in the Yellow Page ads, there’s – one advertises against the other. There’s two; they’re larger contractors here. And one suggests that he’s better by using a hand-nailed technique versus air-mechanical. And I’d like your thoughts on that.

    TOM: Well, I think it makes no difference whether the roofing product is nailed by hand or nailed with an air gun. Both are completely acceptable ways to fasten roofing products to the house.

    I think what makes the difference between one pro or the other is really their workmanship. So I would not be confused by competing claims of how a roof is nailed. I can see somebody using that as – it’s kind of like hand-cut, hand-finished, hand-nailed. You have this sort of vision of something that’s quality in craftsmanship involvement, right? But I really don’t think it makes a difference.

    But what makes all the difference when hiring a roofer is the quality of that work and how well the roof is put together, especially when it comes to those intersections that have to be flashed. So, if all else looks good with these two roofers, I would do a deeper dive on their references and perhaps check online sites like ServiceMagic or Angie’s List, sites like that, to just double-check what their reputations are, talk to past customers.

    Last time I had to hire a contractor that I did not know, I did get a list of references. And I’ve got to say, I think the contractor was quite shocked when I actually called these folks. So get their references and call them and you’ll find people are generally very willing to talk to you about their experience with the contractor. So, I think that’s the best way to proceed. Workmanship makes all the difference when it comes to hiring a roofer.

    BOB: On the roofing material, up in the Northwest where I am now, would – is there – and I’m looking at a conventional, three-tab, asphalt-type composition roof. Is there a better grade of material or something that I should be looking for? As you can tell, this is a first-time roof for me, so …

    TOM: Are you in a high-wind area?

    BOB: We do get quite a bit of wind up where I’m at, up – kind of up on a hill.

    TOM: I would consider the wind-resistance but a product like an Owens Corning shingle is excellent. But I would definitely consider the wind-resistance and buy a product that’s weighted for – that’s rated for wind. Some of those – I know some of those OC shingles are rated for over 100 miles an hour.

    LESLIE: I think it’s even up to 150.

    TOM: Yeah. The good news is the roof will be there; the house, not so much.

    BOB: Well, thank you so much. That’s been enlightening to me to hear what you have to say.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still to come, planning season is just around the corner. We’ve got tips on how to create the perfect landscape plan so you are ready for spring.

    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: And we’d encourage you to “fan” us on Facebook and if you do, you’ll get exclusive opportunities to ask your questions on the air, win prizes and also get the latest posts from our blogs. Just go to MoneyPit.com and click on the Facebook button.

    LESLIE: Billy in Texas is on the line with some deck-building questions. What can we do for you today?

    BILLY: My question is what wood should I build it out of to last longer: redwood, the treated timber or – I don’t know. I’ve had buddies tell me I needed to go with the Louisiana wood that they …

    TOM: Yeah. I mean your options are treated wood, a decay- or disease-resistant wood like redwood or cedar or a composite. You wouldn’t use untreated wood, because it would rot quickly.

    But here’s the thing: if you like real natural-looking wood, then there’s no reason not to use treated wood. If you want to step it up a little bit, you could use redwood or cedar; it’s going to be an expensive upgrade. But no matter what kind of wood you use, you will have to treat it. Because even if you use redwood or cedar, if you don’t put a seal or a stain on there, it’s going to fade because of the sun and it’s going to splinter and break down and crack. So if you’re going to go with wood, you’re going to have to use a solid-color stain on there to make sure it’s preserved.

    Now, the other option, which you didn’t mention, is composite. And if you go with composite decking, then there’s really almost no maintenance that you have to do to it. Sometimes it gets a little dirty and has to be scrubbed but it doesn’t crack, it doesn’t check, it doesn’t twist. It’s always comfortable under bare feet. It’s going to be a little more expensive but when you add up the cost of the wood and the maintenance and the stain and all of that, maybe …

    LESLIE: And the physical cost of actually doing the maintenance.

    TOM: That’s right. Maybe not so much.

    So, those would be the pros and cons of going with wood versus composite. But if you want something that’s not going to have a lot of maintenance headaches and it’s going to last a long time, I would definitely go with composite.

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

    LESLIE: As the saying goes, plan your work and then work the plan. And that certainly applies when you’re planning a new landscaping project.

    TOM: That’s right. Whether you’re starting from scratch or need a total yard makeover, planning that space on paper before you put the shovel in the ground can help make sure it comes out perfectly. For tips on what to consider when putting together your plan, we’re pleased to welcome Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Sounds like we’ve got a plan ahead of us.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. And that is the major mistake that people make – wouldn’t you agree? – is not having that plan before they start a project. I think people tend to head to the home center or the hardware store, buy a couple of things at the nursery center, come home, pick up a shovel and dig a hole and stick it in there. And no surprise, over time, the yard starts to look kind of crazy, doesn’t it?

    ROGER: I couldn’t agree with you more. You can save so much money by coming up a plan, whether it’s one you develop yourself or one you develop with a professional.

    It does a lot of things. It allows you to get things in the right space, so you know where it’s going to be and how it’s going to fit in with your lifestyle.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: It tells you quantities or how much you need of certain things. And it can help you – you know, I can move a tree on paper and it doesn’t cost anything. Once it’s planted and you go to move it again, then that’s a big problem.

    LESLIE: So, really, what’s the first step? Do you need to think about that space and how you and your family use it?

    ROGER: Exactly. You need to know which area is going to be for play, which is going to be for privacy, which area is shaded, which is an area shaded, exposure to a house or a street. Do you want to screen a certain view? There’s just so many things you can put on a plan to help you get a good project.

    TOM: How about maintenance? That’s an important thing to consider, right? You can design a landscape for high maintenance and you can design it for low maintenance.

    ROGER: That’s right. And one of the biggest things we talk about is the lawn area. Is it something you’re going to mow? Are you going to hire a professional to do it? That can control how large a space you’re going to have. Or you’ve got kids playing. That will control how large the lawn area is.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, I know we just redid our landscaping plan and it was very helpful that my husband and I both had an idea of what type of plantings we liked. Didn’t know whether or not they worked for our area but that’s when the pro really made a difference. Because we were like, “Oh, I really like the idea of Japanese maples and grassy things,” but does that necessarily work? Is that a good point to bring in a pro?

    ROGER: That’s an excellent point to bring in a pro or even to go to a garden center or a nursery where they’ll be glad to look at your plan and help you find the right things. There’s no worse feeling – I think everyone’s biggest thing is to do it wrong, you know?

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: To put all that energy into it and have it turn out not what you hope it can be.

    So, gather as much information as you can. And a lot of times, you can get free information from people that – from websites on different types of plants and going – like I said, going to a garden center and getting a recommendation from them.

    TOM: And finally, before you actually start to execute on that plan and get the shovel in the ground, it’s important to make sure you’re not going to hit anything that’s unexpected, right?

    ROGER: Yeah. I mean there’s just all sorts of things buried on properties that you don’t know about, from a wire to a gas line, a main line. So, it’s very easy. Call your local utility-locating system and usually you can do that by dialing 811. And they’ll come out and mark out everything they know of.

    Now, some of the things aren’t marked out that are there, historically, but at least you have a fighting chance going in to know where the major problems could be.

    TOM: And you don’t end up with an unexpected water feature.

    ROGER: Water feature? What about a gas line?

    TOM: Yeah. That, too.

    LESLIE: And if you don’t call and you do damage something, you are financially responsible for that, correct?

    ROGER: That’s what they say, yeah. But it’s not that bad, because you only have to call 72 hours in advance. And if you can’t be aware of the project – oh, I shouldn’t say that, because I have called later than that. But no, for the most part, if you can’t figure out 72 hours in advance you have to call them, then maybe wait a week. It’ll be a good thing.

    TOM: Then you haven’t done your plan.

    ROGER: You haven’t done your plan. Yeah, that’s one of the checklist items.

    TOM: Well, Roger Cook, thanks so much for helping us form our landscape plan. Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much. Great advice.

    ROGER: Yeah, it was a real plan, huh?

    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 ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by Lumber Liquidators. Lumber Liquidators, hardwood floors for less.

    And still to come, is your home run over by electronic gadgets? We’re going to help you hide those cords, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller today can win up to $500 worth of cellular shades from Simple Fit.

    These shades install in just minutes with no tools. They come in 5 fabric styles and 30 colors. Plus, there are no cords, because you get fingertip controls to raise and lower the shades. Check them out at Simple Fit Custom Shades or pick up the phone and call us right now with your home improvement question, to get your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Diane in Arizona needs some help with air conditioning and being in Arizona, you’re going to need some air conditioning. How can we help you?

    DIANE: I had a settlement with the insurance company, because we had a storm here and I got – my air conditioner got damaged and it was 10 years old. And it’s a central air. I have electric for air conditioning and for heat, we have gas. And when – I do not have a computer, so I hear about different units like York, Goodman, Trane, a Lennox. I don’t know which ones are good, which ones are bad, which ones last longer.

    TOM: First of all, are you only replacing the outside condensing unit or you’re also replacing the furnace and the air handler or any of the inside parts?

    DIANE: Everything.

    TOM: Everything. OK. Because it’s important for maximum efficiency that what you put outside matches what you put inside the house. Because they have to work together or you don’t get the same efficiency.

    I think that Trane is a very good brand to start with – T-r-a-n-e. It’s a good-quality product. Lots of great options and very energy-efficient.

    It’s going to be real important, Diane, that you choose one that is Energy Star-rated. I’m sure they all are with Trane but even if you go to a different brand, if you compare Energy Star-rated units against other Energy Star-rated units, at least you have a basis for comparison. At least you know that you’re getting the same level of energy efficiency.

    But Trane is a good place to start and now is a great time to get this project done before it gets too hot.

    DIANE: That’s wonderful to know, because there’s a lot out there.

    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, the average American family has no less than two dozen technological gadgets in their home. But with the whole family toting around the phones, the music players, the digital cameras and more, how do you keep those wires from getting crossed?

    Well, first, label all your chargers so they don’t get mixed up. A label marker works great for that but so does tape and a marker if you want to go kind of low-tech.

    Next, why not think about plugging all your chargers into a single surge-protector strip that can be turned off when not in use? And you can use section organizers to hold the stuff. Here’s a great idea for that: a canvas shoe organizer. That is perfect. You can hang it on the back of a pantry door. It’s got lots of pockets and you can put all of your chargers in one location.

    And finally, if you’d like to get rid of all those chargers, you might want to invest in a mat-style charging station. These allow you to just drop your gadgets on top of the mat and they charge whenever you’re not using them.

    LESLIE: J.C. in North Carolina is on the line with a question about radon. How can we help you?

    J.C.: If your home is built on a concrete slab, then are you in danger of radon effect?

    TOM: Well, you could potentially be in danger of it but the risk, that would be a far smaller chance of you having an elevated radon level on a concrete slab than if you had a basement. Because radon is a gas that emits from the soil and typically, it gets into the home at the basement level through concrete-block walls and the concrete floor and the gaps around it, builds up in the basement. And it’s typically highest in the basement, then it gets far less on the first floor, second floor and so on.

    J.C.: Yes. And I would assume it would be more dangerous with a crawlspace then.

    TOM: Actually, I think it’s less dangerous with a crawlspace and here’s why: because crawlspaces are open to the outside all the time, so they’re completely ventilated. So the highest risk would be if A) you were in an area that was prone to radon and B) you had a basement. Then you would definitely want a test.

    Now, in North Carolina, there are three different Radon Zone levels: 1, 2 and 3. Very little of the state is in the Radon Zone 1, which is the highest risk. I’d say about 30 percent, maybe 25 percent is in Radon Zone 2 but the rest of the state is all Radon Zone 3, which is the lowest risk.

    And in your area, which is Lee County, you’re in Radon Zone 3. So you’re in an area that has a low risk of radon, you’re on a concrete slab. I’d say the likeliness of you having a radon problem is very small but the only way to know is to test, J.C. And you could do that with a charcoal adsorption canister very inexpensively.

    J.C.: Alright. Well, I do thank you.

    LESLIE: Bela in North Carolina is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you?

    BELA: The floor is hardwood.

    TOM: OK.

    BELA: And my wife would like to replace the hardwood with ceramic tile. So the question is: can I put the ceramic tile on top of the hardwood or I need – replace the hardwood?

    TOM: No, no. The hardwood makes a great base for it because that’s so strong and straight and flat. So, the hardwood would be a great base for the ceramic tile. You could use a thinset adhesive and probably adhere it right to that existing subfloor.

    Now, since the hardwood is finished, you might need to rough it up first. Or at the least, you could put some thin plywood over the hardwood, just so you have an underlayment that could really absorb the glue. So you could use like a luan plywood. But there’s no reason you can’t put ceramic tile right on top of the hardwood floor.

    BELA: Now, the commode would have to be – well, I would have to use longer …

    TOM: Yes, it would be a good idea to take the commode up. Because otherwise, you’re going to have sort of an odd cut of the tile around it. So you would remove the commode and there’s a flange that will raise the drain by the thickness of the tile. And then you put it back together again, OK?

    BELA: Alright, sir. I like your show a lot.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. And spring is within sight, folks, and that’s a great time to think about making-over your garage. And part of that project could be refinishing the garage floor. We’re going to have tips on how to get that project done, after this.

    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: And on MoneyPit.com, we give you instant access to thousands of articles, galleries and blogs. You can search by project or even by room or living space and listen to as much of us as you can stand. We’ve got hundreds of old shows and it’s all free, online, at MoneyPit.com.

    And while you’re there, you can post your home improvement question. That’s what Nancy did from Crystal River, Florida. And Nancy says, “What are your recommendations for a concrete garage floor in Central Florida? I’m thinking about an epoxy-painted, sparkle-type floor. Are they durable? Do they tend to peel up? Any suggestions?”

    Well, in terms of durability, they are really fantastic, Nancy. The key here, though, is in the preparation of the old slab. As long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to get that old slab ready, then you won’t have any problem whatsoever with adhesion. Just make sure that you do a really good job of prepping that floor.

    I would look to a manufacturer like QUIKRETE. In fact, I just found out that they’ve reformulated their prep product for these floors, to make them even better. But they look good, they’re easy to apply. You mix up the epoxy along with the hardener. Once the floor is prepped, you paint it on and then you add the sparkle finish that you’re talking about. They call them “color chips.” And you can even add a clear coat on top of that, if you like sort of the really glossy look to it, when you’re all done.

    But it’s a really durable, chemically cured – so you don’t have to worry about the high humidity in Florida – product. And it really looks fantastic when it’s all said and done.

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

    RICH: Hi. Well, I have a problem with condensation underneath my metal door, going to my basement. I’m in Pennsylvania, so we get quite a lot of cold and it accumulates and it drips off every time I open it.

    TOM: Right. So, you’re talking about a Bilco door?

    RICH: Exactly.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. And it gets very wet and it drips down to the staircase and that sort of thing?

    RICH: Yes.

    TOM: Now, the door that you have that actually is sort of the weather door – the one that’s on the basement; not the Bilco, which is sort of the basement-stairwell door, but the actual door to the basement – what is that? What kind of door is that?

    RICH: That’s made out of air right now. I haven’t put one on.

    TOM: Oh. And therein lies the problem, sir. I suspected as much. I’m thinking you’ve got a really lousy door in that basement, because what’s happening is the warm air from the basement is going up and striking the underside of the cold, metal door – cold, metal, Bilco door.

    RICH: And condensing.

    TOM: And so, you’re not going to be able to stop this unless you get a proper door in that basement. Those Bilco doors are not made to be weatherproof, in the sense that they’re going to keep any heat that’s in that basement out.

    RICH: I understand.

    TOM: So that is an enormous energy loss for you right now. So you really need to get that sealed up, get a proper door in there. I mean look, you can go to a home center; you can buy an inexpensive, Therma-Tru door, for example, at Lowe’s. Put it in that opening, frame it in and it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You’re really just putting in there – something there for energy. And seal off that basement, because you’re losing a boatload of heat, as evidenced by that moisture. Every time you see that water drip off, just think about all the heating dollars that it took to create that moisture.

    RICH: Yes, yes. Very good.

    TOM: Alright, Rich?

    RICH: Thank you very much. Have a wonderful day. Bye.

    TOM: That’ll do it. Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Yeah, he’s describing this and I’m thinking, “Man, he’s got a really lousy door in that basement.” “Oh, yeah. I’ve got no door.”

    LESLIE: “Oh, that explains it.”

    TOM: That’ll do it.

    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve given you some good ideas on projects you can tackle to fix up your money pit this weekend.

    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 2013 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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