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    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 with your home improvement project, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are here to help you get that project done. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. That’s 888-666-3974 for those of you that don’t like to fumble around looking for all of those letters on a telephone keypad. I hate that, because I’d always get it wrong and have to dial back again. It’s 888-666-3974.

    Well, it is the end of the summer. It’s still pretty warm out there but fall is around the corner. So, if you’ve got a project or two in mind that you’d like to get an early jump on, that’s a great topic for us. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    If you want some tips to extend your summer, maybe you’re enjoying this lovely weekend and hoping that it stays this way for a long time, we might want to talk about how you can add some heat to your deck. That’s a great project for this time of year. Whatever is on your mind, we’d love to talk about it, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour, cooler fall weather means it’s time to throw open those windows and let the fresh air in. That is, of course, if you can open those windows. If you’re finding some of them just won’t open at all or if they’re just plain old, drafty windows, now is a good time to think about replacing them with energy-efficient windows. The really good news is that now replacing windows can be a do-it-yourself project. Yes, it is a DIY project to remove and replace a window. Why? Well, because the technology has changed to make it possible to do just that. We’ll tell you all about it, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, we’re going to tell you why pets and home improvement projects don’t always mix. We’ve got a few tips to keep your furry friends safe when you’re taking on a DIY project.

    TOM: Plus, this is a good time of year for a little water-heater maintenance. We’re going to have some step-by-step advice on how to drain your water heater to release all of that sediment that builds up. And this way, we’ll keep it running very efficiently.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And this hour, we’re giving away a very cool tool: it’s the RotoSaw from RotoZip, a powerful cutting tool that will help you with all of your projects, including tile, plastic and laminate.

    TOM: It’s worth 70 bucks. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us on today’s show. So, why not let that be you? Pick up the phone, call us, 888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Pastor Chris on the line who’s doing to a – looking to do some repairs at the church. Tell us what’s going on.

    PASTOR CHRIS: Yeah, hi there. Well, I’m a pastor of a church, like you said, and we have raised about $4,600 and we want to put a new floor down.


    TOM: OK.

    PASTOR CHRIS: And we were thinking about doing carpeting and we were concerned that the high traffic would make that difficult to keep nice. And so we thought we would – might use laminate flooring.

    TOM: I think it’s a good choice and there are a wide variety of qualities out there. But since it’s a commercial use, I would use a commercial-grade laminate flooring.

    Now, laminate flooring, Chris, can look just like hardwood, it can look like stone, it could look like tile, so you have a lot of options in terms of the appearance of the floor. Installation is easy; most of it locks together. There’s a very thin underlayment that goes under. You don’t attach it or glue it to the floor in any way; they just lock together.

    LESLIE: It just sort of snaps together.

    TOM: You leave a little gap around the outside and then you trim with molding to cover that gap and then the floor just kind of rides there; it floats. And it’s good stuff. You might want to take a look at the website for LumberLiquidators.com. They are a major supplier of laminate flooring. They’ve been a sponsor of our show for a long time and they’ve some good stuff and they’ve got some great prices.

    PASTOR CHRIS: Oh, OK, great. We were a little concerned with the laminate flooring, whether or not – if people spill coffee on the floor, if we mop it up fairly quickly, we were wondering whether it would start buckling or peeling or would we have trouble with that?

    LESLIE: No, no, no.

    TOM: I raised three kids on a laminate floor and it’s really pretty indestructible stuff.

    LESLIE: The only time I’ve ever heard anyone having any sort of issue with a laminate is in a flood situation where water got underneath the laminate, between the subfloor and the laminate itself and that caused an issue. If you’re spilling something on the surface, you’re not going to have a problem.

    PASTOR CHRIS: Oh, OK. OK. Well, that answers my question.

    How would I know the difference – when I look at the website, will it tell me that it’s a commercially-based product or …?

    TOM: There’s a test called a Taber Abrasion Test where they spin an abrasive disk into the surface and that dictates how durable it is.


    TOM: And so, they should have information on that. If you call them up, they’ll give you information on what the most appropriate products are for your particular use.

    PASTOR CHRIS: Alright. Well, very good. I appreciate your time.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Elaine in North Carolina who’s dealing with a porch that seems to be falling apart. Tell us what’s going on.

    ELAINE: Well, the porch was originally some kind of cement; we’re not sure what. And when the inspector for the termites came around, he said, “Right up next to your house, it’s very – or next to the kitchen, underneath the house, it’s very damp.” And he looked – was looking around on top. He said, “You’ve got a crack right there between your stoop, your porch and the house, where it just runs from one side to the other, you know?”

    TOM: Right. OK.

    ELAINE: So I said, “OK. Well, I’ll just close that up with a little bit of cement.”

    TOM: Right.

    ELAINE: So I thought, “Well, maybe it’d look right and do right. I’d just cement the whole porch.”

    TOM: Yep. And guess what? It all cracked and fell out, right?

    ELAINE: Right.

    TOM: OK. And you know why? Because you can’t patch a concrete porch with cement. You have to use a patching compound, usually epoxy-based. There are certain types of epoxy-based cements that are sticky and designed to adhere well to that raw concrete. If you try to put new concrete against old concrete, as soon as you get some water and some frost, even, there, it just breaks apart and falls out and just becomes rubble.

    ELAINE: Oh, I see. So what should I use? Should I pull out all of the porch, then? All the – that top layer?

    TOM: I’d definitely get rid of all the loose stuff.


    TOM: And then I would use an epoxy patching compound. You could pick one up from any home center that sells QUIKRETE products – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. They have patching cements that are designed specifically for this.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. 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, nails, screws, paint and other home improvement materials, they pose danger to the four-legged members of your household: your pets. We’re going to have tips for keeping those furry friends safe through all of your do-it-yourself projects, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we want to hear from you here at The Money Pit, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a very cool tool. We’ve got the RotoSaw from RotoZip and it’s worth 70 bucks. And it’s a versatile, new spiral-saw system that’s specifically designed to tackle plunge and freehand cuts in nearly any building material that you’d like to try it on, including tile, wood, plastic, laminate. You name it, it’ll go right through.

    The RotoSaw is compatible with more than 20 different cutting bits. If you want to learn more about it, check out their website at RotoZip.com or give us a call right now for your chance to win one today.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Chuck in Pennsylvania on the line who needs some help in making a home purchase decision. How can we help you with that?

    CHUCK: Well, looking at a house to purchase and the house has radiant heat in the ceilings of the bedrooms.

    TOM: OK.

    CHUCK: The house was built in the 70s, I guess, when they did that. Now, each bedroom has its own thermostat. Would that be efficient with that radiant heat like that or would it be better to go with something like putting a heat pump in?

    TOM: Well, you have electric radiant heat. That’s the most – one of the most expensive ways to heat the house. The reason it has individual thermostats is because each one is a separate circuit.

    Heat pumps will be a little more cost-efficient, because heat pumps are interesting in that they’re really two systems in one. One is electric-resistance heat, which is designed for the hottest – I’m sorry – which is designed for the coldest periods. But most of the time, it runs in the heat-pump mode, which basically is sort of like an air conditioner that runs backwards.

    You know in the summer when you see a window air conditioner and on the inside, it’s blowing the cold air; on the outside, it’s blowing out hot air? If you could take that and flip it and blow the hot air in, that’s kind of what a heat pump does: it reverses the refrigeration cycle. But it only maintains that warm temperature for a two-degree spread between what the thermostat’s calling for and what it is in the house.

    So let’s say, for example, in the house it’s – you have the thermostat set at 70 and it falls to 69, the heat pump comes on. Falls to 68, heat pump stays on. Falls to 67, heat pump says, “I can’t keep up with this and we’re going to need to bring on the electric heat to kind of give us a little bit of a boost here.” So it kind of works together.

    So the electric heat is probably almost as expensive as the radiant. The heat pump would be substantially less. So the thing is, though, if you do this, you’re going to have to run ducts through the house. Do you have air conditioning in the house?

    CHUCK: Yes, sir.

    TOM: And you have a ducted air-conditioning system?

    CHUCK: Yeah, they’re in the floor. The air conditioning’s in the floor.

    TOM: Alright. Well …

    CHUCK: And the heat’s in the ceiling, which seemed odd.

    LESLIE: It seems totally backwards.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s backwards, right? It’s backwards.

    CHUCK: Yes, sir.

    TOM: Well, listen, the ducts release in the right place for the heat to work. So I think in your situation, I would seriously consider a heat pump for those reasons.

    CHUCK: OK. Well, what about a propane gas-fired stove?

    TOM: Another good option.

    CHUCK: OK.

    TOM: But just get a really efficient furnace – really efficient propane furnace.

    CHUCK: OK.

    TOM: High-efficiency, OK?

    CHUCK: OK. That would be better than a heat pump probably.

    TOM: Yeah, that would be less expensive than a heat pump, I think. Yep.

    CHUCK: Okie-dokie.

    TOM: Good luck, Chuck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, we love being your biggest cheerleaders when it comes to taking on a do-it-yourself project. But as pet owners ourselves, we also want to remind you to be sure to keep those pets safely out of the danger zone during the process. Here’s why: paint and solvents, well, they can cause anything from a minor stomach upset, if it’s ingested, to chemical burns.

    Now, if your dog or cat mistakes a nail or a screw for a snack, it could cause damage to their intestines or even a blockage. And even fresh cement can irritate or be corrosive to the paws and skin of some pets.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Just in case, you want to keep phone numbers for your vet, an emergency vet and the ASPCA Poison Control Center handy. And be ready to tell the vet or hotline what type of dog or cat you have, how much it weighs, what type of poison you believe it’s ingested and any symptoms your pet is having.

    TOM: And if you just want to avoid the whole risky situation, well, consider boarding your pet during the process or maybe just arrange a pet sleepover with a friend. Have your pet stay with one of his pet friends or her pet friends and they can have a pet pajama party and be out of the danger zone during those projects.

    Take care of them, folks, and they will continue to take care of you. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Lisa in Wisconsin is on the line with a basement-finishing question and she is one of our Facebook friends.

    Thanks, Lisa. Welcome.

    LISA: Hi. We live in a small ranch house and the base of our house is painted a brown color right now; it’s like the cement brick. And I’d say it’s about 20 inches from the ground up to the first bit of siding. And I was wondering what kind of products are out there. Are there panels of something that can cover that? I had seen something advertised on TV lately, some type of panel. And we’re just wondering if you know of any good products out there that would work for that or if it’s just easier just to go ahead and paint over the brown cement bricks.

    TOM: Well, I mean you certainly could panelize it and there are different systems out today. I know, for example, Owens Corning has a basement-finishing system where they’re kind of like preassembled sort of padded walls that are almost like office cubicles, I always think when I see them, that they attach to the walls. Or you could paint them.

    The thing is, if you’re going to take any steps towards finishing your basement, Lisa, the first thing you want to do is make sure it’s absolutely positively dry down there, by being very careful to check the drainage at the foundation perimeter and making sure everything slopes away.

    The second thing is that if you’re going to put any kind of a paneled wall there, what you really need to do is to frame a wood wall in front of the bricks so that takes up some of the depth of the basement, as well. But you’re going to use a pressure-treated bottom plate – that’s what goes along the floor – and then you could frame a normal wall between that and the floor joists above. And then on top of that, you could add drywall.

    Now, in terms of the type of drywall, what you might want to consider is one that’s fiberglass-faced and not paper-faced.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And that’s something from a company called Georgia Pacific and that’s known as DensArmor Plus. And that’s a fiberglass-faced drywall and that’s great for applications where you have high moisture content, like a basement or a bathroom or even in a heavy-duty kitchen or something like that.

    LISA: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: But it’s great because it’s fiberglass-faced so you’re removing that paper. So because of the moisture, you won’t grow mold. And it finishes the same way and it’s really not that much more expensive, so it’s definitely worth it in this type of application.

    LISA: OK. And then for the attachment thing, you said from Owens Corning that that product was? And then the Georgia Pacific for the fiberglass drywall?

    TOM: Well, Owens Corning makes a basement-finishing system. If you Google that, “Owens Corning Basement-Finishing System,” …

    LISA: OK.

    LESLIE: It’s like panels that sort of stand up on their own and then have a piece that covers them. As Tom said, it’s very cubicle-like but it’s gorgeous and it can be done very well for a basement space.

    LISA: Alright. Thank you very much, guys.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Ron from Michigan on the line who is dealing with some water in the basement. What’s going on?

    RON: Yeah, I have a – the wall in the basement, there is some water seeping through it. And this house, I think, was built in 1968, I don’t know. We’ve been here 12 years now. I don’t know how many coats of what have been put on that wall prior to me. But I did wire-brush it and sand it down as much as I could, because I wanted to put a sealer on there. I think what I used was Zinsser. It’s a primer/sealer?

    TOM: Yep, Zinsser. Yep. Uh-huh.

    RON: And actually, also I used some – DRYLOK, I think it was called? I forget the brand.

    TOM: You’re making a critical mistake here, which everybody makes, and that is you’re trying to make your house float, OK?

    RON: OK.

    TOM: By putting all of those sealers on, you’re trying to keep the water out any way you can. We need to stop the water at the source, at the foundation perimeter. That’s why the paint is not staying; that’s why it’s peeling and deteriorating and getting wet, because it’s getting through. And I bet it gets a lot worse after a heavy rain, too.

    RON: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And another thing, we have a lot of springs here. We have an artesian well in our yard and not too far from the house. And there – this area is known to have a lot of springs here.

    And we did – actually, we had to have a company come in and they jackhammered all around the edge of the wall in the basement and put in a – some kind of a drain system that drains into a sump pump.

    TOM: Yeah. And guess what? And you still have a problem, right, even though they jackhammered up your floor?

    RON: Yeah. Yep.

    TOM: That’s because they’ve not dealt with the source.

    RON: Yep.

    TOM: The source of the problem is two things. Your gutter system. You’ve got to have a gutter system.

    RON: Yep, we do.

    TOM: It’s got to be properly sized. Properly sized means 400 to 600 square feet per spout. The spouts have to extend well beyond the foundation: 4 to 6 to 8 feet.

    RON: OK. Mm-hmm.

    TOM: It’s got to be way out.

    Secondly, you’ve got to have proper drainage. The soil around the house has got to slope. I want it to slope 6 inches down over the first 4 feet. Then it can trail off after that. Those two things will manage the water at the foundation perimeter. I am not surprised that you paid all that money to have that interior drain system put in and you still have a problem. You’re going to have a problem unless you keep the water away from the house. That is the number-one leading cause of basement water and moisture issues.

    Take a look at MoneyPit.com, search “wet basement.” You will find a lot of articles and a lot of discussion about the success that people have had doing those two things, which is extending gutters and downspouts and cleaning them and fixing the grading.

    RON: OK.

    TOM: That’ll make the problem go away once and for all.

    RON: Yeah, we’re – house is like in a side of a hill, our basement, the patio. We have a patio down in back where it’s a quad-level house and we are kind of – side of a hill and it does slope back. But I think the biggest problem here, to be honest, is all the springs. And I don’t know if we’re going to be able …

    TOM: Does your moisture problem get worse after a rainfall?

    RON: Yes.

    LESLIE: Then that’s it.

    TOM: It’s not the springs.

    RON: The spring – actually, we have a big thaw. That’s the worst.

    TOM: It’s not the spring, OK?

    RON: OK.

    TOM: It’s not the spring. I say it’s not the spring because if it was the spring, it would be happening seasonally and not consistent with rainfall.

    RON: True.

    TOM: When it happens consistent with rainfall, it’s drainage, drainage, drainage, OK? You’ve got to fix the drainage. Fix the drainage, your problem is going to go away.

    RON: Sounds like a plan.

    TOM: Gerald, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    RON: Thank you, sir.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, it’s time to open up those windows to that cooler September weather. Thank goodness. If that’s been an issue for you, trying to open those windows, you might want to consider new windows that will work properly. We’re going to tell you how to replace old, inefficient windows yourself – that’s right, I said it, yourself – next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Andersen Windows, the number-one brand of windows in America. Now enjoy 10-percent off all special-order Andersen windows and patio doors at The Home Depot, including the Andersen 400 Series Double-Hung Replacement Window, making it easy to replace your old windows. Valid through September 12. See The Home Depot for details.

    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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Carl in Texas on the line who’s got a heating/cooling/insulation question. What can we do for you today?

    CARL: Well, we have built a house out at the ranch. It’s a two-story house and in it, we put the spray-foam insulation: walls, ceiling, roof, everything.

    TOM: OK.

    CARL: Which, by the way, has been an absolutely wonderful thing. But the builders tried to convince me that it is cheaper to leave the thermostat set where we want it all the time.

    TOM: Well, I mean here is what I would do. I wouldn’t – I don’t know what temperature you like leaving the air conditioning at, Carl, but I would suggest that you leave it reasonably high. I’m thinking kind of in the 84-ish area so that it doesn’t get too terribly hot, not turn it off all the way. Because his point is that everything in the house holds heat and when you turn it on, it has to run that much longer to cool everything off and that’s true.

    But I wouldn’t turn it off completely; I think it’s a good idea to dehumidify the house, which is what the air conditioner does. But I don’t think you have to leave it down at 78 or anything like that. I think you can have it like 84, 86 so the house doesn’t get too terribly cold and that you will find that it maintains a reasonable temperature. It doesn’t take that long to cool off when you get there.

    Will you save money? Maybe. It really depends on how much power that system is using and a lot of other factors in terms of how well-built and insulated your house is. But I do think it’s probably a good idea to leave it on to a high degree when you’re not there.

    CARL: OK. That is what I thought and you confirmed it and I appreciate that.

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

    Well, now it’s time for your Picture Perfect Tip, presented by Andersen Windows and Patio Doors. And with fall literally around the corner, it is the perfect time to think about replacing leaky, drafty windows in your home. And if this is a project you’re interested in, the first thing to understand is that replacement windows, unlike new-construction windows, make this project not only easy, it actually is one you can do yourself.

    LESLIE: Yep. And here’s why: replacement windows are custom-sized to fit existing window openings. There’s no need to tear off existing siding to install them. You just remove the top and bottom sash – which is the part, you know, of the window that opens up and down; it slides up and down – and the replacement windows then fit inside your existing frames, which makes the install super-easy and quick. You don’t need special tools and since replacement windows install from inside your home, even windows on the second story are easier to replace.

    TOM: And right now, special-order Andersen windows and patio doors at The Home Depot are 10-percent off through September 12th. Andersen offers the new 400 Series Tilt-Wash Replacement Window that is super-energy-efficient with low-E4 glass that can keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. These also have low-maintenance exteriors, so there’s no painting that’s ever needed. And they tilt in for easy cleaning.

    LESLIE: Yep. And the styles are beautiful. There’s a wide selection of hardware that will match any room décor. Check out the 400 Series for yourself at AndersenWindows.com.

    TOM: And remember, this is a project you can do yourself and you can special-order Andersen windows and patio doors right now, through September 12th, at The Home Depot and get 10 percent off.

    LESLIE: Mary in Florida is working on a siding project. How can we help you with that?

    MARY: I’d like to know what your opinion is on a product called HardieTrim. It’s spelled H-a-r-d-i-e?

    TOM: Yep.

    MARY: I’ve got some boards on the ends of my house, between the brick siding and the roof, that needs to be replaced because they’re getting old and rotting. And this man has recommended that and I know nothing about it and I thought I’d see what your opinion was it – about it then.

    TOM: Well, it’s good stuff. It’s a composite siding product. I actually have one of the Hardie products on a garage and it’s called HardieShingle. But HardieTrim and HardiePlank, it’s all the same stuff.

    MARY: Oh, OK.

    TOM: And it’s not organic, so it doesn’t rot. And it may be available already primed or actually fully painted. I put the product up on my house; it was already painted.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it looks beautiful.

    TOM: And it’s beautiful. So, it’s really good stuff and I don’t think you’re going to have any problem with it. And it’s a good recommendation from this contractor.

    MARY: OK. Well, I just didn’t know what it was and I wanted to get your opinion.

    TOM: Alright. Well, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, for much of the country, our kids are in the home stretch of the summer vacation season. In fact, this could be your very last weekend of hearing “I’m bored.”

    LESLIE: That’s right. Coming up, we’ve got ideas for family do-it-yourself projects that can take the ho-hum out of these last few dog days of summer, so stick around.

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    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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And one caller who calls us with their question today could win the very versatile RotoSaw from RotoZip. It’s a professional-grade saw that’s powered by a 5.5-amp motor and handles even the toughest materials without bogging down, including tile, plastic, wood and laminate. It’s worth 70 bucks. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Gutter Cleaning 101 with Ken in Delaware. How can we help you today?

    KEN: I have a little weed problem.

    TOM: A weed problem?

    LESLIE: Growing out of your gutters.

    KEN: And it’s – yeah, well, the weeds are growing in the gutters.

    TOM: Yeah. This would be a clue, Ken. Your gutters are talking to you. They’re saying, “Ken. Oh, Ken. It’s time to clean us!”

    KEN: Yeah. And I’ve been looking at some of these gutter covering kind of things that they keep – I have pine needles. So, it’s difficult to get something to keep them out of it.

    TOM: Right.

    KEN: And if I don’t clean them two or three times a year, then that’s it.

    So, I guess the advice I’m looking for is what’s your experience or advice on the gutter helmet-like products and where – which are better and which are worse and what to look for.

    TOM: You know, the reverse-curve type, which is the gutter helmets and others that are similar to that, work very well except I have some concerns about whether or not they have – when they get in a situation where there’s a lot of water running down the roof all at once, like heavy, heavy rain, even maybe a steep roof.

    But I think the best is the mesh type. There are a number of mesh types out there. Gutterglove, I think, is one of them that works very good. And what happens with the mesh is that they never really ever clog; they’re made from a really super-fine, stainless-steel mesh with – they have – where they have like maybe 100 holes per square inch. So the water does go through them but there’s never anything that’s open enough for those pine needles that you talked about to kind of stick there. Does that make sense?

    KEN: Yes. In fact, I had, laying here on my desk somewhere and I can’t find it, one of the pamphlets from one of the ones that has a microfiber-type mesh. And it’s a stainless steel of some sort. And they’re due to come out next week and give me a quote but I wanted to check with you guys to see – and girls – to see – got to give the tip of the hat to the lady – what your opinion on it was and what to look out for.

    TOM: Well, I’ll tell you what. Online at MoneyPit.com, there’s an article that I wrote called “The Cost of Gutter Guards: Are They Worth It?” So if you just got to MoneyPit.com and you search on the topic of gutter guards once you’re on the site, you’ll find that story.

    And we go through a discussion of the reverse curve, the mesh, the bottle-brush type. There’s nylon types, there’s foam types. Pretty much lists them all out there with some links through to the different manufacturers, so you can really get a good overview of all the gutters that are out there – gutter guards that are out there – and try to determine which one is best for you.

    KEN: Excellent. Thank you for your advice. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Well, if your kids are anything like mine, it’s about that time of summer that’s the hardest to bear: school is right around the corner and they are looking for something, anything to do. That’s why it’s also a good time of year to take on some do-it-yourself projects with your kids.

    Now, today’s kids don’t have the same experiences with a hammer and nail, certainly not like I did growing up, though.

    LESLIE: They don’t even know what they are.

    TOM: It’s a chance for them to learn some skills and have something to show off, as well.

    LESLIE: You know what? You could start with something basic, like outdoor furniture, a sand box, a tree swing, a birdhouse. Or this is something my son would love: a small, mini-golf course. I swear we make these every day out of random things around the house anyway.

    The ideas are endless and it’s something that I bet your kids will never forget. And it’s great because they’re doing it with you. I mean it really is a great memory-maker.

    TOM: If you’d like some great ideas on projects to get you started with your kids, just Google “money pit DIY kids.” We’ve got a whole host of projects on our website at MoneyPit.com that you will find.

    LESLIE: Alright. Time to talk dishwashers with Marcia. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    MARCIA: Hi. I really love you guys’ show.

    TOM: Thank you.

    MARCIA: I bought a portable dishwasher and I also got a new sink and a faucet put in. And the gentleman that put it in for me told me, “This is a cheap faucet, isn’t it?” And I said, “Well, yeah, kind of.” And so, it didn’t last very long and the dishwasher has broken the faucet and I want to know how to rectify this problem and what I need to do. And I don’t understand why it broke it.

    TOM: Well, when you connect a portable dishwasher to a faucet, usually you have a special faucet aerator, is that correct? That’s like the sort of the valve on the end. So is it just that part that’s broken or is the faucet itself that’s broken?

    MARCIA: It’s the faucet itself. And he told me that, too. He said it’ll probably break at the inside of it and I really didn’t understand what he was talking about.

    TOM: Just because of the weight of the dishwasher line hanging off the end of the spout and that kind of stuff?

    LESLIE: And maybe any movement.

    TOM: Yeah. Why don’t you just replace the faucet?

    MARCIA: OK. So I can just go – do I have to buy a certain faucet?

    TOM: You know what? You could probably repair this faucet but it wouldn’t be worth it because you’d have to – you’d have a hard time finding the parts, most likely. You can buy a good-quality kitchen faucet for probably, I don’t know, $20, $30 at a home center.

    MARCIA: OK. Just get a new faucet then.

    TOM: Yep.

    MARCIA: OK. Well, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Leo in Missouri is on the line with a water-heating question. How can we help you with that?

    LEO: I’m looking to replace my water heater and I’m wanting to do an on-demand, tankless water heater. And I’m looking at a couple of different units. One of them is a stainless-steel unit, 98 – the condensing unit – 98-percent condensing.

    TOM: You have an electric – you have electric water – electric hot water?

    LEO: Actually, I’m going to do – I want to use propane.

    TOM: OK. So you’re looking at a condensing, propane tankless water heater. OK.

    LEO: Yes. And it’s stainless steel, 15-year warranty. They’re wanting about $3,000 for it. The other one is copper and it’s 94-percent condensing and they want about 1,400 for it. And it’s only got a 12-year warranty versus the 15. It just seems to me that it’s not worth twice the expense for …

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a – it’s a fair point. I think that a tankless water heater is a good thing and the way – definitely the way to go today. You’ll have the on-demand capability of having, really, an unlimited amount of hot water there that’s available any time you need it. There are lots of great manufacturers out there that make them. You should take a look at brands like Rheem – R-h-e-e-m – and Rinnai. Both great …

    LEO: Yeah, Rheem – pardon me. Rheem is the copper one and I think Navien is the stainless-steel one that I’m looking at.

    TOM: Well, Rheem is a much more well-known brand and they make really good products. And they’re at the top of their game, so I would not hesitate at all to invest in a Rheem product.

    LEO: OK. I appreciate your advice. That was kind of where I was leaning but I just kind of wanted to hear it from somebody else.

    TOM: Alright, Leo. Well, we’re happy to help. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Up next, you might be surprised to hear that it could take years before termite damage is noticeable. That’s why we’re going to give you some tips on how to look for signs of an infestation before it’s too late.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Andersen Windows. Right now at The Home Depot, all special-order Andersen windows, patio doors and accessories are 10-percent off. Replacing windows or patio doors is always a big decision. Saving 10 percent on Andersen and lowering energy bills? Well, that’s easy. And Andersen makes replacing your old, drafty windows easy, with a new 400 Series Tilt-Wash Double-Hung Replacement Window. Now 10-percent off at The Home Depot. Valid through October 17, U.S. only. See store for details.

    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 you might have the A/C running right now but this is the time to take a look at your heating system before you need to start using it. Get your furnace maintained now, get it serviced. It’s smarter than waiting until it gets cold. You will make sure it’s running efficiently and safely for the season. If you want to know what a heating pro needs to do when they service your furnace, that’s all online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And while you’re there, you can e-mail us or post your question in the Community section. And Sandra from Massachusetts writes: “We have a 1972 ranch-style home. We recently noticed some wood particles that look like saw dust, that seem to be coming from one of the breather holes in the strip of wood to which the gutter is attached. We’re worried that this could be termites. What do you think?”

    TOM: I have great news for you, Sandra: it’s definitely not termites.

    LESLIE: Alright. What is it?

    TOM: It’s carpenter ants.

    LESLIE: No.

    TOM: Yeah. And by the way, there’s no such thing as a breather hole in a strip of wood. Those holes – those perfectly drilled, about 3/8-inch-wide holes are drilled by carpenter ants as they drill and look places – look for places to create nests.

    So you’ve got carpenter ants, my friend, and you need to treat those. There is a powder-based insecticide that a pro can spray into those holes and make them go away. If you want to get rid of them permanently, think about replacing that hole-y wood with something that’s not going to be eatable by carpenter ants or termites and that might be AZEK – A-Z-E-K. It’s a composite PVC product that looks like wood but they can’t eat.

    If you are wondering if you have termites around your house, you want to look for mud tunnels around the foundation, inside and outside your house. Also, tap on all of the floor joists that sit on top of the foundation to see if any of them sound hollow. And check the inside walls with a bright flashlight to see if you see those tubes coming up through the walls. If you do, it’s time to call a pro, because you would have termites.

    LESLIE: Mm-mm-mm. Definitely get the pro in there. You’ll be super-happy you did. And sooner than later to get it under control.

    TOM: Well, as summer turns to fall, so begins the Goldilocks season for home improvement, my favorite time of the year because it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold; it’s just right. So, September is the time to get lots of home improvement projects done around the house. And Leslie is going to help with some ideas in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. So, first up, doing a little maintenance to your hot water. This weekend, we’ll have you enjoying hot showers all winter long and really, that’s when we want them.

    Now, regardless if you’ve got gas or electric water heating at your home, they develop a buildup of sediment at the bottom of the tank. And that buildup can cause your water heater to operate inefficiently and then it’s going to shorten the lifespan of the water heater.

    Now, to keep it working properly, you should drain 2 gallons of water from the tank twice a year. And it’s very important that when you’re doing this maintenance that you make sure the water heater is turned off and that you protect yourself from a potential burn. You want to wear thick gloves, long sleeves and safety goggles.

    Now, you’re going to turn off the water heater about – for an hour or so before you begin. And that’s going to reduce the temperature of the water in the tank so that you can actually do this project.

    Now, there are two valves on your water heater. The one near the top is a safety valve that’s going to release pressure. Do not touch it. Up on top? Do not touch. The one near the bottom is for draining and that’s the only one that should be opened for this purpose. Go ahead, connect a hose to the water-heater drain valve and set it to drain into a sink or outside. And after a short time, that water is going to start to run clear as the sediment washes out. Then close the valve by turning it clockwise and do not forget to turn your water heater back on.

    And if you do this twice a year and really keep up on this, you’re going to extend that lifespan. Because, normally, you’re looking at what, 10 years? Maybe you’ll get 12, maybe you’ll get 15. I mean we get calls from people who have a 20-year-old water heater. I don’t recommend it but you never know.

    TOM: It depends on if you’re feeling lucky or not, you know?

    LESLIE: Exactly.

    TOM: If you’ve got an older water heater like that, you’re better off replacing it before it makes you replace it.

    Coming up next week on The Money Pit, we’re going to talk about dealing with water in the basement. It’s one of the number-one topics that we get asked about here and it’s got a very easy solution, one that’s going to surprise you with its simplicity. If you do it once and do it right, you will never have to deal with a wet basement again.

    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 2012 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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