Find Hidden Heat Loss, High Tech Water Heaters and More
TRANSCRIPT FOR SEPTEMBER 21, 2009, HOUR 1
Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
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: Give us a call right now with your home improvement questions, your do-it-yourself dilemma because we are standing by to help you get the job done that you need to do around your house. Fall is officially here and that means it is the fall fix-up season – what Leslie and I call the Goldilocks season because it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold (Leslie chuckles); it’s just right. It’s just right to work inside, it’s just right to work outside your house. So call us and we will help you get the job done. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one project you might be thinking about dealing with right now is fixing all of those sneaky leaks that are around your home; that send the energy dollars right out the window or the door. We’re going to help you deal with that this hour and cut down on those costs. We’re going to help you track down those leaks. We’ll tell you exactly how to do it in just a bit.
LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, you know those leaky windows might be a great thing to replace right now; especially because there is a dollar-for-dollar tax credit available and we are going to have all of those details on that for you.
TOM: Plus, an electric water heater can be very costly but we’re going to have the opportunity today to tell you about a new type of electric water heater that is extremely efficient and extremely cost effective. Details on that a little bit later.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a great prize pack from our friends over at Krylon. We have got the first ever spray stain. Now, it’s worth 30 bucks.
TOM: And it’s going to one caller who reaches us today at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with their home improvement question. 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Ronny in Maryland, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
RONNY: Oh, hi. I have a marble table that we had some oil from Subway. We had some extra oil when we ordered sandwiches and it made a ring around. I want to know how to get that out.
LESLIE: Oh. Hmm.
TOM: Marble’s a pretty porous material, so it does that quite easily, doesn’t it?
LESLIE: Yeah, and oil is like enemy.
LESLIE: Hmm. You got to try to do something that’s going to draw the oil up out of the marble itself because it’s probably already pretty much sucked down into that surface. What you might want to try is a mixture of peroxide and baking soda or peroxide, baking soda and cornstarch and I’d kind of do equal parts of everything. And mix this up so it’s almost like a paste.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Like a paste.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah. And you want to put it on top of that stain and let it sit there and see if it’ll absorb that oil up. And then once it kind of dries off, make sure you clean it really well with soapy water just to get everything away and see if you’ve done any damage; you know, taking the stain away, I mean.
If traditional peroxide doesn’t work, I’ve heard of peroxide that you can get from the pharmacist that’s like 40-percent hydrogen peroxide rather than like the three to four percent that we get at the over-the-counter area and that might help you kind of get the stain out a little bit more. Other than that – it’s worth a shot.
RONNY: Alright. Hey, thank you very much.
LESLIE: And good luck.
TOM: You’re welcome, Ronny. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’re going to talk to Cathy in South Carolina who’s dealing with a central air conditioning problem. What can we do for you?
CATHY: Well, it seems that I have too much of a suction on the filter and the filter is being sucked in; not all the way in but it just doesn’t look right. (inaudible at 0:03:44.0) call you folks you always have good solutions.
TOM: OK, Cathy. What kind of an air conditioner are we talking about here? It’s central air?
CATHY: Central air, mm-hmm.
TOM: Alright, and what kind of filter do you have?
CATHY: What kind of filter?
TOM: It’s a fiberglass filter?
CATHY: Fiberglass, yeah.
TOM: And where are you installing the filter? Is it in the blower compartment for your furnace or is it in a register, you know, somewhere else in the house?
CATHY: Yes, you’re right; it’s in a register in the living room.
TOM: Well, you know, there is a tremendous amount of intake onto that register. And the filter that you’re using, is it held inside of sort of like a cardboard frame?
CATHY: Yes, it is.
TOM: Well, if it’s a good-quality filter, it needs to be supported on all four sides and that may be – you know, it may be part of the mounting that’s causing this to sort of buckle in. However, what I’ll tell you about these filters is as good as that filter is, it’s probably not doing a very good job cleaning your air. The best kind of air cleaning system would be an electronic air cleaner which would be mounted not at the register but at the furnace itself and these electronic air cleaners can take out right down to virus-sized particles in the air. You’ll be doing a lot less house cleaning, there’ll be a lot less dust and it’s a lot healthier. So fiberglass filters are OK; they’re sort of the cheap way out. But if you really want to have a filter that’s going to do a really good job scrubbing your air, you need an electronic air cleaner. Aprilaire makes really, really good ones. You can check them out at Aprilaire.com.
LESLIE: And the filters in that device are meant to be changed once a year; not like the other one which is every month, practically.
TOM: Once a month; that’s right.
CATHY: Well, thank you very much. You do such a wonderful service. I do appreciate it. I have a chemical sensitivity, so it’s very important that I have clean air and …
TOM: (overlapping voices) Oh, you’re going to enjoy that product.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, this will help you so much.
TOM: Yeah, check it out.
CATHY; Thank you.
TOM: Alright, Cathy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit on the very first weekend of autumn; so welcome fall and welcome home improvement season. Give us a call 24 hours a day, seven days a week with your home repair or home improvement question. We are here to help at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, up next, you’ve sealed all the leaks and caulked all the gaps; so why are you still feeling a draft? We’re going to help you find your home’s hidden heat-loss culprits, right after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Generac and the Generac automatic standby generator. Be protected and never worry about power outages again. Visit your favorite home improvement center or call 888-GENERAC or visit Generac.com. Your home will stay on the next time the power goes out. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: You know, Krylon has a cool new product out. It’s the first and only exterior wood stain in a convenient spray can. It’s going to make it so much easier to do that project. It’s called …
LESLIE: And less messy.
TOM: Yeah, less messy. It’s called Krylon Exterior Semi-Transparent Wood Stain and it provides the same protection you get from regular wood stain in a bucket but with spray paint convenience. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a six-pack of that new product from Krylon worth 30 bucks, so call us right now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We will draw one name out of the Money Pit hardhat and if it’s you, we’ll send the stain to your house.
LESLIE: Alright, well now’s the time of year where you are thinking about buttoning up and sealing up all of those leaky areas in your house. And if you think you’ve done a good job but for some reason you’re still feeling a cold draft, what gives? Well, to help you figure it out, we need to talk about the hidden heat-loss culprits in your home and what they are doing. You know, these are places that you didn’t even think to look at the first time. We’re talking about recessed lighting, outside wall outlets, even your chimney.
Now, you can seal up leaks in the sneakiest places by playing leak detective and tackle those areas one at a time. For example, you can install outlet gaskets in outlets that are on outside walls. Now those are these little sort of foam pieces that look exactly like the outlet cover itself. They go on the backside and then you screw the outlet cover back on; instantly sealed up. You can also seal recessed lighting with spray foam insulation that comes in a can.
Now, dryer vents can also be a leak source as well as a whole-house fan and your attic stairs. Now there are covers available for all of these leaky locations; just do some searching and you’ll find the right one.
TOM: And if your home is just super-leaky and you absolutely don’t know where to start, there’s a really cool test that’s available called a blower door test. Now it’s something that’s done by an energy auditor where they essentially take this giant-sized fan and they actually take out your front door, replace it with this big panel with a fan on the inside of it and then they fill the house with air and they can actually identify every, single place there’s a leak in the house with this blower door test. And it’s really freaky because …
LESLIE: Are you in the house when they do this?
TOM: You can be. You can be inside, you can be outside. They can either pressurize or depressurize the house. But here’s the craziest thing: when they’re done with this, they can take all of the sort of space that counts as a hole where air is leaking and they add it up and they tell you, “You have the equivalent of an 8×8 hole in your house where air is leaking out.”
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Oh, I don’t even want to know about my house.
TOM: Because every little, tiny gap adds up and with a blower door test you can find out exactly where those are and then you can prioritize which are the most important to fix and do those first; you know, which are the leakiest areas and so on. So it’s called a blower door test and if you’re interested in one you’d have to contact an energy auditor but it’s a very cool test and very effective; something that I’ve seen done a number of times and I would definitely do myself.
888-666-3974. If you’ve got a home improvement question, you got an energy-saving question, pick up the phone right now and give us a call. We will help you out.
LESLIE: Jim in Oregon is calling in with a bathroom floor issue. What’s going on?
JIM: Hi. I just bought a new house, an existing home; it’s about 15 years old. And when I first got into it, in the laundry room they just had vinyl floor down but it was loose underneath the washer and dryer. And I knew there had been a water leak there because there was some damage to the sheetrock, so I pulled up the vinyl and then I ended up taking out all of the particleboard because I’m going to put ceramic tile down or porcelain tile.
JIM: So I went down to the plywood subfloor and the plywood subfloor was stained, so I could see that it had water; quite a bit of water at one time. And my question is if I should treat that before I cover it up.
TOM: Well, is it dry at this point, Jim?
JIM: Yeah, it’s dry now.
TOM: Yeah, I don’t think there’s any need for you to treat it; as long as it’s dry, it’s not warped or twisted or anything of that nature. You’ll be happy to know that once the moisture evaporates, any decay that could have begun will automatically cease.
TOM: So there’s really no point in putting any kind of sealer on it at this point.
JIM: If there’s any type of a moldy smell or anything, could I just paint the plywood with some type of a sealer that is specific for odor hiding?
TOM: How are you going to attach the tile?
JIM: I’m going to be putting down thinset and then backer board and then it’s going to be covered up with …
TOM: OK, so you’re going to physically attach the backer board to it? Like screwing it in place?
JIM: To the plywood.
TOM: Well, if it’ll make you feel better, there’s no reason you can’t seal it if you want to use a good-quality sealer or a paint to seal that in; if you think that’s going to make the odor go away. I don’t really think you have to. You’re going to have so much material on top of it that I think it’s going to seal in naturally. And once it dries out and you get normal ventilation in that space, I don’t think you’re going to have any odor problems.
TOM: Because think about it; the thinset, the adhesive, the backer board. You know, what difference is a thin layer of paint going to make?
JIM: Right, exactly. (chuckles) OK. Sounds good.
TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Diane in Wisconsin is looking to change her garage into a snowmobile garage. How awesome is that? What’s going on? Tell us about it.
DIANE: I have a detached garage and it would appear that there is enough room, when you open up the sliding door, to pull in both snowmobiles. And right now, there’s sort of an indoor/outdoor pet containment area and I just don’t know how to go about it; like what the floor surface should be. One of the snowmobiles has reverse and the other one doesn’t and as far as when you pull in, perhaps if there’s certain colors of paint that would help with exhaust fumes and that type of thing.
TOM: Well, you know, we don’t have snowmobiles out here in the New York/New Jersey area; although I think it would be kind of cool to go up and down the parkway on one.
LESLIE: It would be pretty awesome.
TOM: You know, my hand would get really cold when I have to reach in for toll money out of that warm glove. (Leslie chuckles)
DIANE: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
TOM: That’s a problem.
LESLIE: That’s what the EZ-Pass is for.
TOM: (chuckles) On your snowmobile. You know, I think what you want to really look into here, Diane, all kidding aside, is an epoxy floor. Because that’s going to be the most durable type of floor surface and …
LESLIE: And it’s going to clean super-easy.
TOM: And it’s totally do-it-yourself.
TOM: I mean, basically, these epoxy paints, when you buy them, they come in two parts. There is a paint and then there’s a hardener. And you clean the floor, you apply them. Some of them have these color flakes that you can sprinkle in so it looks really attractive even when the snowmobiles are not there.
TOM: And it hardens up real nice and I think it’s going to be real durable for you. So I think that’s the solution here.
DIANE: I love that idea and I did not – you know, I didn’t even think about – I mean I thought a floor surface and I thought more about …
TOM: Adding something on top?
TOM: Yeah, not necessary …
DIANE: But I like this idea better.
TOM: Yeah, it’s a lot more durable than that. Made by a number of manufacturers. Rust-Oleum has one and QUIKRETE has one.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) QUIKRETE.
TOM: Yeah, look into the epoxy floor coating systems.
DIANE: Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
TOM: Alright. Now where do you use those snowmobiles? Do you use them to run up to the corner store for a quart of milk or what?
DIANE: You could. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) We actually – we live in an area north of Madison, Wisconsin; about an hour north. And we actually can take the snowmobiles right out of our – well, right now they haven’t been in the garage but they’re like just in the top of the driveway and there’s a snowmobile path and you can go to the grocery store or you can go to a bar or the hardware store; wherever you want.
TOM: Wow, how cool is that.
DIANE: And then we’re right across from a lake, so you can go down the lake even if there’s not snow.
LESLIE: Wow, that’s amazing.
DIANE: Yeah, it’s really amazing; really is.
TOM: Well, that sounds like fun. Diane, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
You can go to the bar on your snowmobile. How about that? (Leslie chuckles) That could be pretty dangerous. (chuckles) You don’t want to get in the path of one of those guys at closing time.
LESLIE: Bill in New York has a question about windows. What can we do for you today?
BILL: I have a cedar home built by Lindal Cedar Company, state of Washington. And it’s cedar on the outside. On the inside, the walls are pine but all the windows are framed in cedar. And over the years – it’s 34 years old. Over the years we’ve had either condensation and leaks and it’s stained; my frames and my cedar windows. And somebody told me, “Well, just paint it” and I was hoping that there’s a way to do something other than paint it.
TOM: So, OK. So what you have to do here, Bill, is you have to sand it. Because what you’re seeing is an oxidation or sort of a chemical reaction between the wood and the water and if you sand this, you should be able to get down to some clean wood. It’s going to be a detail job. It’s going to be one you’re going to have to spend a little bit of time on but I think you should be able to sand off the stained areas, get down to fresh wood. And then you’re going to have to seal these windows or, if you want to varnish them clear, you could put a clear polyurethane on them or you could stain them. But you can’t leave them untreated; otherwise, they certainly will stain again.
BILL: OK. Thanks a lot.
TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Taking a call from Cathy in Idaho. What can we help you with?
CATHY: Yes, I have a wooden deck on the back of my house. It’s 12 years old and until three years ago, I always treated it with a transparent stain.
CATHY: But about three years ago I put a semi-transparent stain on it and I hate the color and I would like to go lighter than it is; at least a different color. Can I do anything or am I just stuck with this color forever?
LESLIE: And you want to keep in the semi-transparent family or are you ready to go to the opaque stage?
CATHY: I’ d rather go back to transparent. Is it too late?
LESLIE: Well, it depends. If you want to go lighter or you want to go to the transparent, you’re going to have to strip off the existing stain and that’s not hard. You just need a chemical product that’s made to specifically remove any of the stain that’s on there. Flood makes one called Stain Strip. There’s a lot of different manufacturers who make chemical strippers. You want to apply it according to the manufacturer’s directions. The autumn is a perfect time to do it because it’s very dry outside, so it’s really a good time of year to tackle this project.
You want to apply the stripping agent; allow it to really penetrate into the surface. Then you can pressure wash it away and, if you have to, you might have to go back to a couple of areas that maybe the stain didn’t come off. But once you get to a raw surface and it dries, you can go back to either a transparent if you find that it’s really picked up from a lot of the spaces. If you find that there are a lot of areas where you have some remaining semi-transparent stain, then you might want to go with a semi-transparent in a different color. But if you’re going lighter or you want to go back to transparent, then you have to strip it.
LESLIE: It’s not hard. Let the product do it for you.
TOM: Cathy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Up next, our good friend Tom Silva from This Old House will be joining us here at The Money Pit with all of the tips on why replacement windows, if you’re thinking about getting them this time of year, might be a very good option. We are going to have all of those details, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Install a new, energy-efficient Therma-Tru door today and qualify for up to a $1,500 tax credit. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com/TaxCredit.
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: On air and online at MoneyPit.com; brand new website, just relaunched. We are really, really psyched about it. Love to hear what you think about it. Please take a look at MoneyPit.com. You can also link through to our pages on Facebook and also on Twitter right there on MoneyPit.com. We’ve got about 1,500 articles on that website; all of our shows, all of our transcripts all organized in a very easy-to-access way. So take a look. Let us know what you think. It’s all there for free at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Mike in Pennsylvania has a question about flooring. How can we help you?
MIKE: I’m a frequent listener and I enjoy your show a lot.
LESLIE: Thanks, Mike.
LESLIE: Thank you very much.
MIKE: I had a question. I’m renovating a 100-year-old farm house, more or less …
MIKE: … and I’m down to the floors. The downstairs floors are pretty decent maple hardwood; a living room, a dining room and a hallway. But local refinishers wanted anywhere from $2.50 to $2.75 a foot to revarnish them; refinished and revarnished.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Wow, that’s a good business. If this radio thing doesn’t work out, I’m in for that one. (chuckles)
MIKE: Well …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (chuckles) You’re in for the floors?
MIKE: Yeah, well I did it with laminate for about $1.25 a foot, so it was kind of a no-brainer.
TOM: (overlapping voices) I bet. OK.
MIKE: But I’m down to the radiators now. I’m questioning – you know, this is an old radiator hot water system …
MIKE: … and it has some rather large radiators which weigh hundreds of pounds, actually.
MIKE: And they sit on – the smaller ones sit on four corner feet; the longer ones have two feet in the middle.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Yes.
MIKE: And I’m wondering what I can put under those feet. I think they’re going to sink into the laminate over time.
TOM: Yeah, well they might. You basically …
MIKE: And I wondered what I could put under the feet to protect that.
TOM: Well, you essentially want to – you want to sort of create your own coaster for that. Now, you can do that out of laminate material; that would be the easiest thing to do. And if you choose your pattern carefully, it’ll be fairly invisible when it’s put down. But if you cut something out of the laminate material to slip under that, that will give it some protection; and of course, if you do it to all the legs equally, you won’t impact the slant on the radiator.
MIKE: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Alright, thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, you’ve thought about it and you know it’s got to be done but you’ve just never quite gotten around to replacing those old, single-pane windows that you’ve got in your house.
TOM: Well, it can definitely make a huge difference in energy efficiency. Here to explain that is Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House, and the show’s general contractor, Tom Silva. And guys, saving energy and money is pretty popular right now and windows seem to be a good place to start.
KEVIN: These days, it seems like everyone is interested in saving money and saving energy at home. And if you have single-pane windows, you’ve got a great opportunity to do both.
TOM SILVA: Right, and if you compare a single-pane window with the windows that they make today, it makes a big difference.
KEVIN: So, what do you think, Tom? Is replacing windows always the solution?
TOM SILVA: Well, compared to single-pane windows, the advantage of replacement windows – there’s a lot of them, actually – you can get a maintenance-free window outside; no painting to deal with. You can get dual-pane, you can get triple-pane. You’ll actually get a gas in between that window that will improve the efficiency of that glass and you can actually get a low-e coating which will reflect the heat that you make in the winter time back into the house.
TOM: Now, is now a good time to do that because of the tax credits?
TOM SILVA: There’s a great tax incentive right now. Before 2010, if you get your new windows, you can get 30 percent off the cost of the windows. Take advantage of it.
KEVIN: Alright, well if you need more information, there are several videos about replacement windows and storm windows on ThisOldHouse.com.
LESLIE: And for all the details that you’re going to need to either do this project on your own or even hire a pro, you can download the Complete Replacement Window Guide. It’s a free chapter from our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure and it’s available right now at MoneyPit.com and we’ve put it together with help from our expert friends over at Simonton windows.
TOM: Tom Silva, Kevin O’Connor, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great tips.
TOM SILVA: Our pleasure. Happy to help.
TOM: And of course you can watch Tom and Kevin on This Old House, which is proudly sponsored by GMC. GMC – we are professional-grade.
Well, up next, we’ve got a new way to heat water for your home that will reduce your family’s carbon footprint by two tons a year and save you a lot of cash in the process.
ANNOUNCEMENT: This portion of the Money Pit is brought to you by Behr Premium Two-Part Epoxy Garage Floor Coating. Transform drab, gray, concrete garage floors into attractive and functional spaces with a showroom-quality finish. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com. Behr products are available exclusively at The Home Depot.
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 and being that we are full into the fall season – well, the beginning of; which means you are going to start thinking about a ton of home improvement projects – you know that staining is a good one for this time of year; zero humidity. And if you’ve ever stained wood, you know that it can be time-consuming and absolutely messy. There are multiple steps and then of course you have to find a room to store the leftover stain; what you going to do with it, you can’t throw it away. Well, Krylon has come up with the first spray stain that applies cleanly to both vertical and horizontal surfaces without runs or drips.
And one lucky caller that we talk to today is going to win a six-pack of Krylon’s exterior semi-transparent wood stain; perfect for all of your fall fix-up projects. To be in on this great giveaway, give us a call with your home improvement or your home repair question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Now, one question you might have is “How can I save energy and money heating my water?” which is especially important if you are – I’m sorry to say – unfortunate enough to have an electric water heater (Leslie chuckles) because they’re very, very expensive to operate. You know, after heating and cooling, water heating is usually the biggest energy user in the house and electric water heaters have never been very efficient or environmentally friendly; that is, until now because there’s a brand new kind of water heater on the market. It’s from Rheem and it’s called an integrated air source heat pump water heater; big long name but what it means is it can actually offer you twice the energy savings of a standard electric storage water heater. It’s the Rheem HP-50 and Rheem says that the HP-50’s energy-saving design will help a family reduce its carbon footprint by nearly two tons every year. So you’re going to save some energy and it’s a good product for the environment.
LESLIE: Now, what we’re talking about here is a 50-gallon tank but it’s only 21 inches in diameter, which is very small. And it’s got a great, slim design which is ideal if you’ve got a new home or if you’re just putting one in as a replacement of your existing water heater. Now, the Rheem HP-50, it’s Energy Star-qualified and the best part is that it qualifies for a federal energy tax credit as well as many local rebates and incentives.
Now, if you currently have a gas water heater and you’ve got a 240-volt access nearby, you can even replace your gas water heater. It all is a win-win situation.
TOM: If you’d like some more information about the Rheem HP-50, you can go to their website which is www.RheemHPWH.com for Rheem heat pump water heater. RheemHPWH.com. Or, for more energy-saving questions about your house, pick up the phone and give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now it’s time to talk to Debbie in Texas about heating and cooling. What can we do for you?
DEBBIE: Hi. I built my home seven years ago and I had the insulation blown in the attic and then I put rolled insulation in the walls; the interior walls.
DEBBIE: But the insulation in the attic has packed down a lot and I see that my heating and air conditioning bills are going up.
TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. OK.
DEBBIE: I’ve heard a lot about radiant barrier. Is that something I should do or could do now that it’s already got that blown insulation in or should I just add more insulation?
TOM: Both are good strategies. The radiant barrier does a good job of trying to keep the heat out of the attic to begin with in the summertime; it’s not going to do as much for you in the wintertime. But what you might want to think about doing is adding another layer of insulation on top of what you have. How many inches do you think you have there right now, Debbie?
DEBBIE: My guess would be probably eight.
TOM: Yeah, that’s not nearly enough. I would add probably at least another 10 or 12 inches. I would use unfaced, fiberglass batt insulation laid perpendicular to the ceiling joists.
DEBBIE: Oh, so just lay the rolls instead of having more blown in?
TOM: That’s right. You can lay it right on top.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm, on top.
DEBBIE: Oh, OK.
TOM: Yeah. This way, you’re going to …
DEBBIE: Now, I have those canister lights in the ceiling. Is that going to cause a problem or (inaudible at 0:28:19.8).
TOM: Well, they’re already – the canister lights, are they already – is the insulation covering them?
LESLIE: The blown-in?
TOM: OK, it depends on what type of lights. We would hope that the insulation contractor originally checked but if the canister lights, the high hat lights, are rated IC – which simply stands for insulation contact …
LESLIE: Then you’re OK.
TOM: But if they’re not, then you cannot cover them and you have to go around them.
LESLIE: Is there a place on the ceiling can itself where you can read that?
TOM: Yes. It should be stamped right on the device itself and if it’s rated …
LESLIE: On the interior side. So if you’re looking at it from the room …
TOM: Well, it depends on the manufacturer. But usually where you put the bulb in, near the socket, there’s usually some labeling across that so that you can always see it. But it has to be rated for insulation contact; otherwise, you simply want to just go around it.
DEBBIE: Alright. Well, thank you. Thank you for taking my call.
TOM: Well, you’re very welcome and good luck and we hope we get those heating and cooling bills down.
LESLIE: Don in Virginia is dealing with a leak. Tell us about it.
DON: Yes, I’ve got a stone front. My house is stone stucco. It’s about three-and-a-half years old and it’s been – I didn’t notice at first because it’s in a guest room but apparently I’ve had water coming in almost the entire time. It’s coming in above the window.
DON: OK. It’s not coming in through the window.
DON: I’ve eliminated the roof; I’ve eliminated – there’s no water in the attic. There is a little gable on that section. I’ve gone up – I’ve seen some cracks and some holes in the grout in the stone there and the trim around that window is stucco.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. OK.
DON: But I have checked that caulking and I mean I’ve not seen anything wrong with it. I’ve caulked it just to be safe.
TOM: Right. Have you been able to reproduce the leak? Have you ever tried to take a hose and simply saturate the area right above the window and reproduce it?
DON: Yes, and it …
TOM: And were you successful.
DON: Yes, and …
TOM: Well then, unfortunately, you’ve got a flashing problem.
DON: That’s what I’m afraid of.
TOM: Yeah, I think you’ve proved that by all this work that you’ve done. When you have a situation like this and you’ve filled all the cracks, you’ve caulked all the gaps and it’s still leaking and, in fact, you can reproduce the problem by saturating that area with a hose, you’ve got a flashing problem. And the problem is not on the surface; it’s somewhere down deep because that stone’s going to get very wet and when it gets through it’s going to – that water is going to find it’s way in.
Now, fortunately, probably between now and the time this home was built, flashing has gotten a lot better and a lot smarter. You might want to take a look at some of the flexible flashing products that are made by Grace. They are the makers of Ice & Water Shield and they have a number of different types of flexible flashing products for windows and doors that are designed to sort of stretch around odd shapes and create a very, very water-tight membrane. But unfortunately, you’re going to have to take some of this stucco and some of this stone apart to be able to do this repair.
DON: That’s what I was afraid of.
TOM: Yeah, I think that’s what we’re up to now. If you’ve taken it this far, I don’t see any other simple solution.
DON: Well, you’ve confirmed my suspicions.
TOM: (chuckling) OK.
DON: (chuckling) I do appreciate it very much.
TOM: Alright, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT and good luck with that project.
LESLIE: Well, now that we’re about to get into fireplace season, is your brick fireplace looking worn and dated? We are going to have a few ideas on how you can spruce it up, next.
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: Are you an empty-nester perhaps looking to downsize or maybe you’ve got a young family that you need to expand or even baby-proof your home like Leslie just did?
TOM: We’ve got all your home solutions at MoneyPit.com. You can search our ideas and solutions sections for great tips and money-saving ideas on just about every stage and phase of your life. It’s at your fingertips, it’s free at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: And while you are online, you can shoot us an e-mail question by clicking on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon just like Sandra in Pomona, New York did. And she writes: “I’d like to freshen up my brick fireplace. It’s all brick floor to ceiling and it has two black vents on the sides which are closed off, no mantle and it appears that the previous owner tried to paint the brick, changed their minds; so now I have blotchy brick. (Tom chuckles) The brick is worn and chipped in spots. How can I fix it without breaking the bank?”
TOM: I hate blotchy brick. It’s like a bad rash.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) I know, right? There’s a cream for that. (Tom chuckles) You know, painted brick is tough. I have tried all different kinds of over-the-counter, if you will, removers for dealing with removing paint off of brick. It really requires a lot of elbow grease, a lot of applications. Since it seems like perhaps it’s not fully covered and maybe it was just like a quick roll or a half-coat rather than slapping on a ton of coats of paint, you might be able to try; otherwise, sandblasting is really the only surefire get-rid-of-all-the-paint-from-the-brick.
TOM: Yeah, good point.
Alright, we’ve got another here from Carol in California. Carol says: “My husband installed a whole-house fan, turned it on and smelled attic dust coming into our home. That was three years ago and he’s not turned on the whole-house fan ever since.” (Leslie chuckles) “His theory …” – husbands always have to have a theory –
LESLIE: You’ve got to.
TOM: “His theory is that the air is sucked up into the attic, forced out through the gable vents and then sucked back down into the house from the whole-house fan suction.” You must have one heck of a powerful fan there …
TOM: … if that was to really work the way your husband thinks, Carol. Listen, whenever you turn a fan on, especially a whole-house fan, you’re going to pull some dust from different places in your house where you probably couldn’t reach to clean in your normal process of housecleaning. I’m sure that’s probably what he smelled. It’s not going out and coming back in again because there’s so much air outside it would certainly dilute anything there. Having said that, I think it’s a very good idea to have a whole-house fan. Whole-house fans, when used properly, are a great substitute if you do not have a central air conditioning system and, if you do, you can use it for like a month in the beginning of the season and another month, say in the fall – like about right now – where it will really cool the house nicely because it just …
LESLIE: But you have to open the windows and what-not, correct?
TOM: Yeah, you’ve got to – that’s right. You’ve got to have the fan in the second-floor ceiling; you’ve got to have a good vent in the attic space – usually a vent in the gable – to let the air out; and you’ve got to open a few windows wherever you want the air to pull from. If you do all those things, it pulls a nice breeze through the house.
And one other trick of the trade: set the fan on a timer switch so that when you go to bed at night you can have it on for like 45 minutes or an hour and it’ll cool the house off while everyone’s going to sleep and then it’ll just shut off automatically when the house is nice and cool and you’re nice and comfy.
LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got one here from Dorothy who writes: “We have a problem with pigeons entering the attic of our house through the space beneath the eaves of the roof and leaving droppings all over the floor. This is an old brick house in upstate New York. It’s currently unoccupied. Do you think some type of netting or chicken wire installed along the eaves could help the problem? What do you think?”
TOM: Well, it absolutely will. The first thing you need to do is to seal up all those open spaces. I mean you’re basically letting these guys right into the attic of your house and unless you close that up, they’re going to continue to do that. In terms of stopping them from perching, yes; some bird wire or some netting – some steel netting, by the way, so they don’t chew through it – will stop them from landing on those spaces. You know, we get a lot of pigeons down here on the Jersey Shore, where I’m from, and if it wasn’t for the bird wires, they would be sitting on everything.
LESLIE: Including Tom’s head. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
TOM: Have you seen my pigeon-wire hat?
LESLIE: (chuckling) Oh, is that what that is? Alright, Dorothy. I hope that helps. And you know what? You really can’t consider the property unoccupied; you’ve got the pigeons.
TOM: That’s right.
You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. We’re just about out of time. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers online at MoneyPit.com. Please visit our brand new website there; totally remodeled and redone just to make it easier for you to access the information. We’d love to hear what you think about it. If you’ve got a question, simply click on Contact Us and send us your home improvement question. We will answer it on the air or call you back the next time we are in the studio.
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 2009 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.)