00:00/ 00:00

Garage Heating Options, How to Frame a Partition Wall, Energy Saving Projects Under $50 and more

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And it’s time to pick up the tools and get to work. We’re going to help you take that first step with some advice to help you get going on your home improvement project. You need some help solving your do-it-yourself dilemma? You don’t know if you can do it yourself or you need to hire out? All great questions. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because that’s what we do.

    Coming up on this hour of the program, Valentine’s Day is here. And just so that it can never be said that we let a holiday pass without thinking of a home improvement angle to talk about, we’re going to teach you some romantic home improvements that you can make to your home, for your sweetie, for this Valentine’s Day.

    LESLIE: And February is also Poison Prevention Month, speaking of love gone wrong. You know, there are actually some toxins in your home that you might not even be aware of. And we’re going to tell you about household poisons and how you can safely store them.

    TOM: And as we’re all probably spending more time inside this year than outside, it’s a good time to talk about how healthy the air is inside your home. It’s probably not as healthy as you think. We’re going to teach you how to cut down on dust, allergens and even germs, with a whole-house air cleaner, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a very cool prize that you are going to want to get your hands on. It’s the Milwaukee Tools M18 Jobsite Radio and Charger. You can actually listen to your favorite tunes, with Bluetooth technology, and you can charge your favorite Milwaukee power tools.

    TOM: It’s a prize worth $229. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those we talk to on today’s show, so give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Travis in Des Moines, Iowa is on the line with a garbage-disposal situation. What’s going on?

    TRAVIS: Well, I’ve got a GE garbage disposal. We just had it installed when we remodeled our kitchen. And we do our dishes out of our sink and so we fill the sink base up and then when we drain the water out, we kick the garbage disposal on just to eat up all the stuff going down.

    TOM: Right.

    TRAVIS: But once it gets about halfway down, this garbage disposal just shakes like crazy and it’ll shake the whole entire sink and …

    TOM: Wow. If it’s shaking, it’s out of balance. And so why could it be out of balance? You said it’s a new unit?

    TRAVIS: Yep. It’s brand new. The thing is is when we turn it on, it runs just fine.

    TOM: Right.

    TRAVIS: And then about halfway down, it starts to shake and then it stops. And then it goes back to just a clean operation.

    TOM: Hmm. I suspect – now inside the unit itself, there are these sort of paddles that swing around and help mash up the garbage.

    TRAVIS: Yep. Yep.

    TOM: I suspect that something is wrong there and they’re getting stuck in a position opposite than the other two. Because if that happens – it’s just like balancing a tire: if you don’t have the weights in the right place, you start to get a vibration.

    So I suspect that either something is wrong with one of those paddles or this just has a bad bearing. And a bad bearing can actually work really well and then when the weight distribution gets a little bit different because all the water’s going through there, it can kind of like catch an edge, so to speak, and work really poorly. But I think you need to replace that.

    TRAVIS: Mm-hmm. OK.

    TOM: I’m assuming that the bracket was installed properly and it’s secure to the bottom of your sink. But it really should not be shaking like that. The only time I’ve ever seen them shake is when one of those little paddles got stuck; sometimes it gets rusted shut. But if it’s brand new like that, that can’t be the case.

    TRAVIS: Yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking. But I figured you guys would know.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a balance issue and if it’s not working, I would replace it while it’s under warranty. It probably has a year warranty on it.

    TRAVIS: Yeah, well, we just put it in a few weeks ago, so …

    TOM: Yep.

    TRAVIS: Excellent. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Elaine in Florida is on the line and is looking for some help with a flooring project. How can we help you?

    ELAINE: Yes, hi. I’m in the process of – I purchased some Home Legend wood laminate.

    TOM: OK.

    ELAINE: Seven millimeters, I believe it is.

    TOM: OK.

    ELAINE: And my question is – I’ve got conflicting views on what type of underlayment to use and how to lay it over tile – over ceramic tile.

    TOM: Elaine, the Home Legend’s people on their website recommend an underlayment with a combination of a 6-mil vapor barrier and a cushioning foam. But that’s only on concrete subfloors. I think because you’re putting this over tile, the best thing to use is just the cushioning foam.

    ELAINE: OK, yeah.

    TOM: It’ll make the floor lay nicer; it will make it a little bit more comfortable for you to walk on, as well.

    ELAINE: Alright. Thank you so much. I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    We are into the winter months and believe me, spring is not that far behind. So is your money pit ready? Well, we can give you a hand with all your home improvement questions, problems, projects gone bad. We won’t judge.

    We’re here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, how to turn your boring bedroom into a master suite, just in time for Valentine’s Day. We’ll have those tips, after this.

    TOM: Making good homes better, 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: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Not only will you get a chance to ask us your home improvement question but if you get on the air, you’ve got a chance to win the M18 Jobsite Radio/Charger from Milwaukee Tools.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, with it, you can stream rich, full sound wirelessly from over 100 feet away. Plus, it’s going to serve as a quick and convenient charging station for your Milwaukee M18 batteries and your portable electronic devices.

    TOM: That prize is worth $229. Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Mike in Illinois is on the line. How can we help you today?

    MIKE: I have a – the drywall through the center of my house is separating at the seams.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: And it’s straight through the center of the house, down the hallway through the center of the house. And I’m not sure if it’s due to moisture in the attic, drying out and expanding or if it’s the floor in the house moving.

    TOM: Mike, how old is your house?

    MIKE: I’d say 20 years old.

    TOM: OK. And is this relatively new or has it been around for a while?

    MIKE: It’s been there shortly after I moved in.

    TOM: Oh, so it’s been there like 20 years.

    MIKE: Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah, I think it’s probably shrinkage. When a house is first built, the lumber is very wet and over the first couple of heating seasons, it tends to shrink a lot and you’ll get a lot of movement. Now, over the years, you may have tried to patch it and then you just find that it opens up again. That’s very typical.

    MIKE: Right.

    TOM: What you want to do to patch it is you need to sand it down where it’s cracking. You need to use new drywall tape on top of that. You can use the perforated tape. It’s easier to work with, in terms of the spackle, because you don’t have to worry about air bubbles behind the paper tape. Use the perforated tape, put about three layers of spackle on there, sand in between, prime, paint. You should be good to go.

    MIKE: OK. If I have bathroom vents that are venting out into the attic, would that cause it or would that cure it if I …?

    TOM: No, I don’t think – well, first of all, I don’t think it’s caused that but that in and of itself is a problem. You shouldn’t be ducting bathroom exhaust fans into an attic; they should continue through the attic to the exterior.

    And the reason for that – you’re in the Chicago area, correct? Pretty cold there. And if you get that insulation damp, it’s not going to be very effective.

    MIKE: OK. So, with it venting in there, that’s decreasing my R-value of my insulation, too.

    LESLIE: Absolutely.

    TOM: It is. R-value is rated at 0-percent moisture. So when you add moisture to it, it goes down dramatically. So, the more moisture in the attic, the less effective the insulation becomes.

    MIKE: OK. To fix that, would it be alright to add insulation on top of that after I fix that problem?

    TOM: Yeah, you can add more insulation but you have to duct from the exhaust fan out of the attic. So, you can do that by going like sort of through the gable wall or up through a roof vent with a proper termination on the end of it so no water gets in there. And just get that warm, moist air out. Don’t leave it in the attic.

    MIKE: OK. And I’ve done some research on the internet. I’ve got two bathroom fans. To run them into the one, they said to find a wire or a vent that’ll flip one side to the other so it doesn’t backdraft into the other bathroom. I cannot find that.

    TOM: Well, I don’t think you really need that because, for example, if you run it to the gable wall and you have a typical bath-duct terminating type of a hood on it, that’s got a spring on it that stays shut. So it’s only going to open when the air is blowing out.

    There’s another way to do this and that is to have a remote bath fan where they actually have the motor part that’s up in the attic space and the ducts just connect to the ceiling of the bathrooms. But that’s a nice system – it’s a quiet system – but it’s much more expensive to do. You see that a lot in hotels.

    MIKE: OK. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, if you’re looking for something to do for your Valentine this year, you might just be able to hit the nail on the head if you remodel your master bedroom and turn it into a master suite. It’s one of the most popular home improvement remodeling projects in recent years. We’re really seeing a lot of folks take this on.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, a simple makeover might include just some new beddings and accessories or creating, maybe, a cozy corner for some personal enjoyment. You know, it’s so great to have a nice chair in the bedroom where you can just cozy up and read a book. Some couples may want that reading nook. Somebody might want a personal gym or a hobby area. Nothing like bringing all that up into the bedroom.

    If your space allows and maybe you’re a bit more handy, you can consider many couples’ most favorite must-have: separate closets.

    TOM: Now, if you really want to take this to the next level, you can consider adding a fireplace. This is actually easier than you might think if you consider the efficient, new, vented, gas-burning fireplaces and even the gas heaters that look like fireplaces.

    If you want more ideas, just search “master suite” at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Jim in North Dakota on the line who is looking to insulate the outside of his home. Tell us what’s going on.

    JIM: I’m up there in the cold country and I want to – I’m looking to – this past summer, I put siding on my house and new windows and doors and did all that stuff myself. And then I decided I’d better do my basement foundation, especially the portion that’s exposed. And I was – what I’m thinking of doing is – Menards sells those – I don’t know if I’m supposed to say brand names – but sells those 3-foot by 5-foot sheets of Styrofoam with rocks already glued, or however they do that, on one side.

    And that’s what I was going to use but I don’t know how to attach that to the wall. And then I had a neighbor come over and told me that even if I do use that, because I’ve got about 2 foot of foundation exposed – so I’d only be going a foot-and-a-half or so under the ground with the rest of that. But my neighbor tried to tell me that if I don’t go all the way to the bottom of my foundation with foam, that I’ll create a hot/cold where I stop. And he says I’ll break my walls doing that and I’m like, “Well, really?”

    TOM: Well, Jim, first of all, are these foundation walls exposed on the basement side?

    JIM: Yeah, there’s – I’ve got, well, one, two, three windows in there and that’s another thing. I don’t know how to trim around them with that foam stuff.

    TOM: Well, here’s what I would do. I would recommend that you insulate the inside of the foundation walls, not the outside of the foundation walls. Typically, when you build a house and you excavate around the house, you do put a foam insulation around the outside walls. But short of you digging down to the footings, I don’t think it’s worth doing at this point.

    I would insulate the interior of the walls. There’s a wide variety of different types of insulation products. Yes, you can get the kind that attach to the wall. There’s also a fiberglass batt that’s sort of covered with kind of like a foil vapor barrier, that’s specifically made for foundation walls. And any of those are good options to insulate the interior of the walls.

    But just as important, if not more important, make sure you have plenty of insulation up in the box-beam space, which is the beginning of the floor structure. A lot of folks will insulate walls and leave that uninsulated and that’s actually more at risk for drafts. So make sure that the box-beam area, the sill plate, all that area is sealed and insulated. And insulate – add the additional insulation at the inside of the foundation walls, not the outside. A lot easier to attach that way.

    If it’s the foam, you could attach it with a construction adhesive. If it’s the batts, there’s different types of a clip system that comes, typically, with those. You’d buy it at the same place you got the insulation, where it would be clipped into the wall. But I do think it’s a good idea for you to insulate those walls.

    JIM: OK. He told me they do that because that’s why – he’s trying to tell me that’s why they insulate the outside of their walls up.

    TOM: No, your foundation would only crack if your soil got really wet and it expanded and it cracked the walls. If you have good drainage, then your soil should not crack based on having insulation on one side and not the other. That doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Gwen in Virginia on the line who needs some help protecting her kitchen wall. How can we help you?

    GWEN: I actually saw this product at a show: an invention – female inventors’ show that was being aired – was being taped in Chicago. And this lady, she had a product that you take it and it just sort of sticks to the wall. She had it in different colors, that it would blend in with your kitchen wall or if you wanted to have a stainless-steel look – but it was just a piece of material that went behind the trash can, that when you hit – when you would step on the flip tops, it would hit up against that area and would not damage the wall.

    And then when you decided that you want to either move your trash can to another area in the house or you were tired of that particular pattern, you could just peel it off. It didn’t mess up the paint but it protected the wall.

    LESLIE: So it was like a sticker.

    TOM: That’s interesting. I’ve got a couple of ideas for you on that.

    First of all, you don’t need an invention; you could simply put a small piece of clear Plexiglas on the wall using double-sided tape. Or the second thing you could do, which is even easier, is you could add a bumper to the top of the garbage can so that when it comes up, it doesn’t scuff the wall. You could use a felt-tip bumper on it.

    LESLIE: Or even if you go to childproofing – in the childproofing section of any baby store, you’ll find that rubber edging that you can put on coffee tables and things. And you could put a piece like that right on the edge of the garbage can.

    GWEN: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Barry in North Carolina is on the line and looking for some help with a sunroom. Tell us what you’re working on.

    BARRY: Well, we’ve got a 12×15 sunroom and it’s just – it gets cold and it gets hot. It’s double-pane glass, insulated and it’s about 2 inches thick for the bottom part. But it’s like all metal – all aluminum – and it’s just cold and hot. And I just want to know – and it is ducted; there’s an air duct out there.

    TOM: OK.

    BARRY: And is there anything I can do to make it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer?

    TOM: Well, what’s going on here, Barry, is you are not putting enough cool air or warm air in that space to deal with the heat loss that’s going on. So, I presume now this – what you did is extended your HVAC system into this space? Is that how it’s ducted, when you say it’s ducted?

    BARRY: Yes.

    TOM: Alright. And this is typical. The HVAC system is not sized correctly for that area and for the heat loss in that area and for the heat gain in the summer. This is a perfect scenario, though, for you to add a kind of system called a “mini-split ductless.” A mini-split ductless is basically three pieces: you have an indoor unit that hangs on the wall; you have an outdoor unit that’s a very small, very quiet, very efficient compressor; and you have copper tubing that connects the two.

    And you would buy one that’s just big enough for this sunroom and what it would do is supplement the central heat or cold air that’s coming through the duct systems and balance it out. It can have its own thermostat and it can supply warm air in the winter and cold air in the summer and make that room totally comfortable. There’s little else that you can do to insulate the structure. It’s just a very cold structure by its very nature, a sunroom. But a mini-split ductless is a good product to install to balance this out.

    You might want to take a look at this website: ConstantComfort.com. That’s the website for the Fujitsu Company. I personally have a Fujitsu mini-split ductless in my office because the room, just like you say, it’s too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter. And it’s been the perfect addition to my HVAC plan because it really makes this space comfortable.

    BARRY: I’ve seen those units mounted before but usually they’re mounted up high.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    BARRY: Can they be mounted down low?

    TOM: You know, I believe they can. But the higher the better, especially for the cold air so it falls.

    BARRY: But there’s only like 2½ feet of solid piece down below; the rest of it is all window.

    TOM: Well, what about the wall against the house where the ducts come through?

    BARRY: That’s a point. I hadn’t thought about that.

    TOM: Yeah, see, it doesn’t have to be on the exterior wall.

    BARRY: OK.

    TOM: It can – and in fact, you would want to have it on the interior wall – against the house, where the ducts come through – and mounted up high. And you’ll be amazed at how comfortable that space will be.

    That website, again, is ConstantComfort.com. You can check out the Fujitsus there. And they also have an energy-efficiency calculator so you can figure out pretty much how much energy you save.

    Problem is that we build these spaces and we add them on to our house. We try to extend the heating and cooling systems …

    LESLIE: And it just puts too much pressure on the system.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s just not enough.

    BARRY: OK. Very good. That answers my question then.

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

    LESLIE: So, does stuffy, stale indoor air have you wondering how healthy every breath you’re taking actually is? Well, you can get rid of household contaminants – like dust, allergens and even germs – if you’ve got the right indoor-air cleaner. We’re going to tell you how, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

    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: Hey, do you follow us on Facebook? We’d love if you did. We’ll reward you with great show giveaways, new content and great ideas and a place to post your projects and your project questions. It’s all online at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: Well, we can all agree that you can never have too much fresh air, that is, unless you’re an allergy sufferer and that fresh air is loaded with pollen and dust.

    TOM: Well, filters for your HVAC system can help solve that situation but with so many to choose from, which type really does the best job of scrubbing the air in your house? To sort it out, we welcome Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating expert for TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hey. How you doing?

    LESLIE: Clearly, we don’t have a filter in the studio.

    TOM: Yeah.

    RICHARD: Nice to be here.

    TOM: Well, there are so many different kinds of air cleaners on the market. It really is very confusing. There are as many air cleaners as there are competing claims of efficiency.

    RICHARD: Yep.

    TOM: So, what’s a consumer to do? How do you make sense of it?

    RICHARD: Well, it’s in stages. The basic one is that spun filter. And I can tell you, if you hold up a filter and you can see through it as clear as a windshield, you know it’s not going to keep much out but rocks and large bugs.

    LESLIE: It’s not doing anything.

    TOM: It’s a bad idea.

    RICHARD: And that’s what comes on most units: usually a 1-inch spun filter. They are made to be replaced. You can’t replace them enough, particularly because they don’t filter so great.

    And then it’s really just a question of stepping up to the next level. The pleated filters are – instead of being 1-inch thick, they’re going to be about 3 or 4 inches thick.

    LESLIE: And that’s the accordion-style folded fabric?

    RICHARD: Yeah, they fold it. What they’re trying to do is put as much of that media, folded back and forth, to really increase the surface area so they can filter to a finer level than those spun ones.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: And then you can take the same idea of the pleated ones and add an electrostatic feature, which can make those particles become not exactly magnetic but have it stick.

    TOM: But they’re a little stickier, right? Yeah.

    RICHARD: Yeah, it’ll bite on and stay onto the media film a little bit.

    TOM: Now, that’s with the media material itself. And so, what about these electronic filters that really don’t use a traditional media surface? How do they work?

    RICHARD: Right. Well, they’re going to put a positive charge to sort of zap. You know, we joke that it’s like a bug zapper but it’s not really.

    LESLIE: The mosquito zappers?

    RICHARD: But what it’s doing is it’s really making that particle get vaporized on this electronic charge – electric charge, I should say.

    TOM: OK.

    RICHARD: And then those have plates that you can take out, put in the dishwasher and clean and bring them back. And so it’s not like replacing a filter and throwing it out; you can sort of recycle that unit and keep it going.

    TOM: So, it’s almost incinerating the dust, so to speak?

    RICHARD: Yeah. Yep, yep.

    TOM: And that must be efficient because it also kills the dust mites and other things that stick to this, that cause allergic reactions in people.

    RICHARD: Right, right. Yeah. No matter what – which one you pick, I’ve got to tell you it’s critically important to get good filtration and to maintain it. If you ever are in a nice, late afternoon, sunny day in some of these houses that have hot-air systems and you look at the air through the sunlight, it’s just amazing how many particles are in there.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: We change our filters on our automobile – this device that we’re going to throw away – more often than we change the filters that are going to keep the air in our lungs clean.

    TOM: Oh, so many times, in the years I spent as a professional home inspector, I’d open up that blower compartment and see a filter that had either been never changed or one that was changed last week for the first time, since before I got there.

    RICHARD: Yeah. Yeah. That’s right. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

    TOM: But it really is important.

    And speaking of that, the other thing that I saw over the years, many times – and maybe you have, as well – is the insulation gets done incorrectly on these filters. They either put them in backwards, because you have this little arrow that’s on the side of it that points in the airflow.

    RICHARD: Yep. Sure. Yeah.

    TOM: Or the pocket is oversized and that – but that defeats the purpose, right?

    RICHARD: It’s so big. If you don’t make all the air go through that filter, guess what? Air, like water, will seek the path of least resistance and it’ll go right around the filter and not filter at all. Yeah, we see people sticking an undersized filter in an oversized cabinet and it’s not going to do anything, really.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. But I think the importance to take away from here is that in addition to changing the filter or having a filter of some sort is good for your own health, it’s got to be good for the efficiency of the equipment, as well.

    RICHARD: Yes, yes. Any of these devices have either a heat exchanger that could get dirty or they often have an air-conditioning cooling coil that’s in the air stream. And you start bringing back dog and cat hair and stuff like that, it’s going to affect the transfer from that coil to the air that’s going by.

    TOM: So at the least, it’s going to make it less efficient because the air has got to work that much harder to get cool.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

    TOM: And at worst, it could probably fail the system.

    RICHARD: Right. But I – you know what? I’m much more concerned about the health effects for people. The furnace can fail and go away. What we do with the 93 percent of America that is a hot-air system, we are pushing dust and air and just pushing it back around the building and really, just putting it right into people’s lungs. Filtration is a very big story.

    TOM: Now, while we’re on the topic, here’s a question that comes up very frequently: duct cleaning. Do you think duct cleaning is something smart to do or only in certain situations?

    RICHARD: It’s funny. Some of those ducts have settled in with this sort of a – I don’t want to know what to call it, meaning a scuzz that’s over the inside of the ducts.

    TOM: Like a crust.

    RICHARD: Yeah. That it’s sort of sealed.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: And so when you touch it, you sort of – just like knocking out asbestos.

    TOM: Loosen it all up?

    RICHARD: So, sometimes I say, “Just leave it.” But it still drives you crazy knowing that you’ve got all this dirty stuff down inside the ductwork. So duct cleaning is a big industry right now.

    TOM: Right.

    RICHARD: People are thinking about health effects. So, I think it’s smart to do it, particularly if you have long, horizontal ductwork. That long, horizontal …

    LESLIE: Places for things to really settle into.

    RICHARD: It just – it acts like a dust separator. Here’s the air coming with particles in it. And all those dust particles can just fall to the bottom of that duct. And you look down in some of those floor registers, you go, “Wow.”

    LESLIE: Yeah. But I feel like when you look at some of the advertisements for these duct cleaners, you feel like they’re all sharing the same stock photo of some horror scene of the dirtiest duct you’ve ever seen.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. That’s right.

    LESLIE: You’re like, “Is it possible? Could it really look like that?”

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. It does. And actually, nowadays there’s these beautiful, little cameras. You can see down in – these little cameras that are at the end of – for peeking into tight places. You can have them show you what – I think people can get overly worried and clean their ducts too often. They can become anal-retentive about it, just nutty. And so, I think it’s not always that we have to do it as much as some of the clean people want to do it.

    TOM: Right. But duct cleaning, generally, on an occasional basis, not a bad idea. But most importantly, get a good filter, maintain that filter and keep your air clean.

    RICHARD: There’s also a measurement in filtration now. There’s finally some common measurement and it’s MERV- M-E-R-V. And so, you can look at a filter, just like anything you buy nowadays, and look at it and say, “This is a MERV 5 or this is a MERV 8 or MERV 11.” And the higher the number, the higher the level of filtration.

    So, the challenge is to find a filter that can give you as high a number as you need but not choke the airflow coming through the furnace.

    TOM: Find it. Yeah.

    LESLIE: I know the MERV rating. I mean we’ve all heard it but it escapes me right now. What does that stand for?

    RICHARD: What is it? Minimum Efficiency Rating Value.

    TOM: Now you know why we call it MERV.

    RICHARD: It’s much easier as that.

    LESLIE: Right. Exactly.

    RICHARD: Yeah, that’s right.

    TOM: Richard …

    RICHARD: It’s just a way to measure all the filtration.

    TOM: Makes sense. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating expert on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    RICHARD: Great to see you guys.

    TOM: We’re breathing easier already.

    LESLIE: Right. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Up next, are you taking the steps necessary to prevent an accidental poisoning in your home? We’re going to tell you how to spot the potential danger areas, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we are taking your calls at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    And we’ve got a great prize up for grabs for one lucky caller that we talk to on the air today. They will win an M18 Jobsite Radio and Charger from Milwaukee Tools. It’s going to come with an AM/FM tuner, electronics charger and even a bottle opener. You’ve got to love that.

    TOM: And it’s powered by Milwaukee’s revolutionary M18 REDLITHIUM Battery, which makes it compatible with your entire M18 system, so you can even charge your Milwaukee power tools.

    It’s worth $229. Going to go out to one caller drawn at random, so call us right now with your question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    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: Well, every 15 seconds in the United States, a poison-control center is going to get a frantic call about an accidental poisoning. And a whopping 90 percent of accidental poisonings happen in the home. Well, February is Poison Prevention Month, so it is a perfect time to get your house safe.

    Most adult poisonings, they’re a result of mixing chemicals that shouldn’t be combined. Now, you never want to mix cleaning chemicals and you should always read labels about potentially deadly combinations of products.

    TOM: Now, more than half of the home poisonings happen to children under six. So, remember, kids are fast. Don’t just keep an eye on them. Keep poisons out of reach and keep them locked up. And this is especially important if you’re not used to having kids in your house. For you grandparents out there, when the kids come to visit, it’s important that these meds are locked up.

    It’s also very important to get rid of old prescriptions promptly. Don’t flush the medicines; they’ll wind up in the water supply. Toss them in with the trash or dispose of them at your local pharmacy. Many have a take-back program that will safely help you dispose of medicines that you don’t need.

    You also want to post the number of the Poison Control hotline in a place you’ll remember so it’s there in a rush. For more tips, just search “accidental poisoning” at MoneyPit.com.

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

    KELLY: Yeah, I have a Craftsman-style home and it has ridge vents. But I had an energy audit just this spring and the energy audit said, “Kelly, you don’t have any soffit vents in your – around your eaves.”

    TOM: Yeah. Hmm.

    KELLY: Well, I don’t really have eaves. All of my roof ends in these exposed rafters. It does have gables and so he said, “You need to vent this house. Your house – your attic is not properly ventilated because you don’t have any way for the air to get in the bottom.”

    TOM: OK. So you have no soffit. Is that correct? Basically, it terminates?

    KELLY: That’s correct.

    TOM: So here’s the solution, OK? There’s a type of vent called a drip-edge vent. And what a drip-edge vent does is it essentially extends the roof line by all of about 2 inches. And that 2 inch becomes an overhang at the edge that provides the intake ventilation for the soffit.

    So, if you go the website for AirVent.com – it’s the Air Vent Corporation – take a look at the product selection there. Look at the Drip-Edge Vent and you’ll see exactly what I mean.

    Now, to do this, you’re going to end up taking off the bottom course of shingles and maybe even putting two shingles in its place, because you’re going to have to actually physically extend the roof by a couple of inches. But done right, you will install that soffit that you don’t have and you won’t notice it from the outside. So you’re not going to physically notice a difference in terms of the architectural style of your house but you will provide that all-important space for intake ventilation.

    KELLY: OK. Appreciate it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, snow may be pretty to look at but it can cause big roof leaks if you’re not careful. Learn how to prevent that from happening to you, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: Starting an outdoor staining project? Make it faster and easier with Flood Wood Care products. Start today at Flood.com/Simplify and use the interactive selection guide to find the right Flood Wood Care products for your project. Flood, simple across the board.

    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 it’s that time of year. We’re all battling the ice and the snow and you may be tempted to go to the closest chemical deicer you can find. But if it’s rock salt or sodium chloride, you’re going to be calling us in the spring with this question: “Tom and Leslie, how do I fix the holes in my concrete sidewalk?”

    Well, you stop using rock salt because that’s what it does: it causes holes to form in the sidewalk. What you want to do is choose either magnesium chloride or potassium chloride. These are much safer for the sidewalk surfaces.

    And also, by the way, they’re much safer for the vegetation, for the kids and for the plants. So avoid rock salt. Use safer salt products.

    If you want more tips on how to properly season your sidewalks, that’s online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And while you’re online, you can post a question in the Community section, just like John from Pennsylvania did. And John wrote: “Is there a way to keep snow from forming at the edge of my roof, causing leaks and collapsing my gutters?”

    TOM: I think, John, what we’re talking about here is not so much snow as much as we’re talking about ice dams. Because the way an ice dam forms is this. You think about the way the roof is shaped. Most of your roof is over heated space, so it’s over the living space of the house, except for that last 12 to 24 inches that overhangs the exterior wall of your house.

    So what happens is the roof that’s over the heated area of your house, that’s where the snow melts first. It runs down the roof, that water hits that far edge of the roof, which is over the unheated area, which is colder. It freezes and forms a dam, in essence, made of ice. That ice is very heavy and that ice can expand, it can cause gutters to pull away and the water can back up underneath of the shingles there and cause leaks inside your house.

    So what do you do about it? First of all, you improve your attic insulation. Secondly, you improve your attic ventilation so you get good ventilation from the soffit right through to the ridge.

    Now, if you do get an ice dam and a leak, keep in mind that is usually covered by homeowners insurance. And so your insurance company, in that instance, could be paying for a brand-new roof. But the best prevention is more insulation and more ventilation in that attic space.

    LESLIE: Alright. And next up, we’ve got a post here from Ben in New Hampshire who writes: “I paid a lot of money for copper guttering. It performs perfectly but it’s turned a dirty green color. Is there any way to remedy this?”

    It’s called “patina” and a lot of people really, really like it.

    TOM: Yeah. We usually charge more for that.

    LESLIE: Seriously. And people go through major, major efforts to cause patina quickly. There’s all sorts of chemicals you can put on to make it happen almost immediately.

    TOM: How did you possibly go for copper guttering and not know that it was going to turn green?

    LESLIE: Seriously.

    TOM: So, it would be a sin for us to tell you how to clean that up. Of course, I mean listen, if you have a lot of time and money, you could always polish it away. But guess what? It’ll come back. That’s what copper gutters do. So I would tell you just learn to love it, Ben. It’s actually a good thing, not a bad thing to have those gutters turn that beautiful, green patina.

    Or what did he call it? A dirty copper – a dirty green color? No, it’s not a dirty green. Use the word “patina.” It’s a much better word, right? It’s more valuable.

    LESLIE: And it suddenly adds value. I was going to say that.

    TOM: Right. Just think about the real estate listing, Leslie, right? It would say, “This home includes beautifully patinaed copper guttering.” See? Already you’re paying 10 grand more for the house.

    LESLIE: “This home has dirty green gutters.” No. I’ve got to say this, Ben. Having visited Charleston, South Carolina, you will see a lot of super-old, beautiful brick homes that have patinaed copper gutters. And that combination of that red brick with that green hue on the gutter looks phenomenal. So if you find yourself with a brick home or a Tudor-style home, you’ve really stumbled onto a beautiful combination.

    TOM: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we’ve helped you with a tip or an idea that will improve your home. If you’ve got questions, 24-7, we are available online at MoneyPit.com. Just post your question in the Community section or on our Facebook page.

    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 2014 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.)

Leave a Reply


More tips, ideas and inspiration to fuel your next home improvement, remodeling or décor project!