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Go Green for Saint Patrick’s Day, Learn About the Latest in Thermostats from the Inventor of Nest, How to Reduce Humidity and Mold Growth, 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: The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. Go to the phone right now, because we know that somewhere in your money pit, which we know you love – we think of “the money pit” as sort of a term of endearment – there is a project and the project has your name on it and it says, “Fix me.” Whether it’s a fix-it project, an improvement project, it’s got you written all over it. And the only thing stopping you is maybe a little bit of information to get you started, a little encouragement to help you take that first step. That’s what we do. But you’ve got to help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you today. Coming up, you might have complained a bit about your house being too dry in the winter. That’s pretty common. But with the spring rain, you get the opposite that happens: it gets very, very damp and with all that moisture, you get all the yuck that comes with it. So we’re going to talk today about how to keep your home cleaner and safer by maintaining just the right humidity: not too much, not too little. Just like Goldilocks, we want it to be just right so you’re comfortable in your house without turning it into sort of a mold farm.

    LESLIE: That’s right.

    Well, here’s another thing to think about: you know, chances are you’re throwing away some of your hard-earned money on wasted energy. So why not choose St. Patrick’s Day as a chance to go green? You don’t have to do it all at once; there are shades of green, if you will. And we’re going to tell you about how you can pick your shade that’s going to fit your green needs.

    TOM: And speaking of saving money on energy bills, how about an intuitive thermostat? It’s a thermostat that actually learns what temperatures you like at different times of the day. We’re going to talk to a former Apple executive who invented the state-of-the-art and super-cool Nest Thermostat, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour we’re giving away a Power Painter Plus from Wagner and that’s a great tool for all of your exterior painting projects that we know you are going to be taking on very soon in the spring season.

    TOM: It’s a prize worth $130. Going to go out to one caller who reaches us with their home improvement question. So, pick up the phone, let’s get to it. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Dreama in West Virginia is on the line and could be dealing with a structural issue. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    DREAMA: Yes. I purchased a house about 13 years ago and the house is approximately 30 years old. And all of a sudden, last year, in the load-bearing center wall, I started getting a crack. And now, within a year, that crack has gapped approximately a ½-inch wide and it’s also – I noticed another room has a crack now. So I had a local handyman look at it and he suggested that I put in three piers – columns – to support the center wall.

    And I guess my question is – I haven’t had an official, large construction company look at it yet. I’m getting ready to do that. But I wanted to educate myself a little bit more. What would you all suggest?

    TOM: How long have you been in this house?

    DREAMA: Thirteen years.

    LESLIE: And this is new.

    DREAMA: Just started about a year ago.

    TOM: See, here’s the thing. If you call a contractor, you’re going to get a contractor’s solution, which is to hire them to do something. What I would suggest you do first is to get an independent expert opinion, not necessarily an opinion from a contractor. So your options on that are two: one is low-cost; one, I would say, is moderate cost.

    The low-cost option would be to find a local professional home inspector. You can go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. That’s at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org.

    DREAMA: OK.

    TOM: And you can put in your zip code. They’ll shoot back a list of certified professional home inspectors in your area. You can call from that list, find somebody that’s experienced and have them look at it. Because they’re just there to find out what’s going on and what caused it and what it’s going to take to fix it.

    The second way to go, which is the moderate cost, is to actually hire a structural engineer. Now, why may you want to do that, Dreama? Well, you might want to do that – if this is a fairly obvious problem, you want to certainly preserve the value of your house.

    DREAMA: Right.

    TOM: And if you have a structural engineer look at it and write a report as to what’s going on and what it’s going to take to fix it and then you actually give that report to a contractor and say, “This is what I want you to do,” and then you have the engineer sort of recertify that it was done correctly. It’s kind of like having a pedigree that the repair is done correctly and then kind of sell with your house, so to speak.

    Problem with contractors is that they’re not structural engineers; they’re just handy guys and they think that they have the expertise to fix stuff like this and they just don’t. They don’t have the schooling, they don’t have the education, they don’t have the training. And so, that’s not necessarily the best way to go about dealing with a situation like this.

    I am a little concerned that it happened over this past year, because it sounds like it’s active and we want to get to the bottom of why it’s active and why it’s showing up all of a sudden.

    DREAMA: Well, someone had mentioned that it’s a possibility – we’ve had a lot of dry – several dry summers and – because that could cause a settling in the foundation. Is that possible? I’ve never heard of that before.

    TOM: No. I mean there are some expansive soils that behave differently when they dry out a lot but listen, there’s going to be a lot of opinions. Every neighbor you ask is going to have a different one. What we’re trying to do is move you towards an expert opinion so you really know what you’re dealing with.

    So, as I said, contact a professional home inspector or a structural engineer. Get the assessment. It’s well worth it. Your home is a big investment. We want to make sure it’s protected, OK?

    DREAMA: I hadn’t thought of a home inspector. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Dreama. Good luck with that project. 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. Now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, you know the old saying: “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”? That’s what you say in the summer? Well, guess what? All that humidity in the spring can cause some pretty serious mold and mildew and even bacteria situations. So we’re going to tell you how to lower the humidity and stay healthy in your house, after this.

    (theme song)

    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.

    Hey, pick up the phone. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re going to help you with pretty much whatever it is you are working on at your money pit. We want to give you a hand, we want to know what you’re working on. We want to help you get the right thing, do the right thing and not have to do the same project just 15 times in a row, just because you skipped one step.

    Plus, we want to give you a great prize to help you with all of your projects. And we’re going to pick one random caller this hour, who gets on the air with us, to win a new Power Painter Plus from Wagner. And it’s a great power-painting system that uses their EZ Tilt technology, because it allows the painter to spray the paint at any angle. It’s worth 130 bucks and it’s really going to come in extremely handy for one lucky listener. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for help and your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Daniel in Washington is in love with his older home’s windows but needs some help working on them. What can we do for you?

    DANIEL: I want to know how I can remove them without destroying them or having to cut off the weights and letting them fall in the wall, as I was told that’s what I have to do.

    TOM: Well, why do you want to preserve the weights, Dan?

    DANIEL: Well, I just – my biggest fear is they’re upstairs windows and I don’t want them to cause any damage when I cut them loose. And I just want to pull them out intact, I guess, for seeing what exactly they are. They’re being used for weights.

    TOM: Yeah, you don’t have to worry too much about that. How old is your house, Dan?

    DANIEL: It was built in 1900.

    TOM: OK. So, the weights themselves are these sort of round, tubular pieces of solid cast metal. And I wouldn’t worry about letting them drop. They’re only going to drop to sort of the bottom of the wall cavity. They’re not really going to do any damage. They’ll drop down a couple of feet and stop. But what you do is cut those cords or disconnect the chains, let the weights drop, pull out the pulleys, take out the upper and the lower sash and then you insert the replacement window into the rest of the wood sort of old window frame that’s left.

    That’s the smart move because it’s very easy to do. You don’t have to tear up any siding or anything like that. You basically just take apart the operable sashes and slip the new replacement windows inside, which you can do because all replacement windows are basically built to fit. That’s the way the technology is designed to work. If you put in an order for replacement windows, they put all the numbers into a computer and it spits out the window at the other end of the assembly line. And you just slip them in and you’re done. It’s a very easy installation.

    You need to be really careful in the measuring, though. And I would have the company that you’re buying the windows from do the measuring to make sure you get it right. But not to worry about the weights. Not a big deal.

    DANIEL: And it’s funny you mention that. He actually did come out and look at them and he told me that he wouldn’t be able to give me the measurements to get the windows myself. Because when he – they order them, the guys that install them have to do any work that’s needed to make them fit properly, because he just takes a rough measurement.

    TOM: So was he just giving you an estimate? Was he there to measure for an estimate?

    DANIEL: Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, I mean that makes sense. Plus, I’ve got to tell you, every company does it a little bit different. So if you buy it from Manufacturer A, they may measure one way and Manufacturer B might measure it slightly differently. So whoever you buy these from, they have to do the exact measurements. He may have just been measuring so he knows how to price the order but it may have to be measured again before you actually do the order.

    LESLIE: Plus, they’re – the numbers are really guarded. He might be thinking that if he gives you the exact measurements, you’re going to turn around and go to another company or order them yourself and try to do it yourself.

    TOM: Which you really couldn’t do because what if he has the numbers wrong? You’ll end up paying for windows that don’t fit.

    DANIEL: So if we already did – I measured the frame on the windows, not the window itself. And we did just put the order in. So I could be in trouble here.

    TOM: Are you going to put them in yourself?

    DANIEL: Yeah. Because it’s – half the cost of the windows was the labor to put them in.

    TOM: Well, how did you know how to measure them? Did you get advice from who you bought the windows from?

    DANIEL: Yeah. He told me to measure the frame – not the window, not the part of the window that moves – but he said the frame itself.

    TOM: Right.

    DANIEL: And he said that’s the number that they would use if they sent somebody out.

    TOM: Right.

    DANIEL: And then he offered, because it was free, and when – to send somebody out. And when the guy showed up, he did the kind of – “Whoa, hold on. I just kind of give them rough numbers and they do what they need to do to make them fit from there.”

    TOM: What I would do, if I were normally ordering windows, is I would get the advice on how exactly they need to be ordered. I would make – take the measurements and order them to fit. You know, if that’s what you did and you followed their instructions, you should be OK. The thing is, if you’ve got it wrong, you’re going to get a window that doesn’t fit and you’re going to have a problem. But as long as you followed their instructions, then you should be OK.

    DANIEL: Alright. It just kind of made me worry when the guy that showed up here gave me a different story than the guy down at the store.

    TOM: Yep. Yeah, well, they’re all experts; they all have their way.

    LESLIE: And clearly they’re not talking to each other.

    TOM: Exactly.

    DANIEL: Yeah. Like I said, that was the part that scared me and why I wanted to get some advice on this.

    TOM: Alright. Well, I hope that helps you out, Daniel. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, spring showers might bring flowers but they can also bring high levels of humidity in your home. As much as 50 percent of the air in your house comes from your basement or your crawlspace. And think about how damp it can be down there and you get the idea of what you’re breathing in: mold, mildew, bacteria. Not to mention that it can cause the wood in your house to soften and it could possibly interfere with your electrical and even the mechanical systems around your home.

    TOM: One way to combat this is with a dehumidifier.

    Now, Santa Fe makes a very powerful and energy-efficient model that can remove 105 pints of water a day from a 2,500-square-foot space. You can put these dehumidifiers directly in your basement or in your crawlspace and you’ll immediately start seeing a difference.

    If you want to check them out, visit DehumidifierSolutions.com to learn more. That’s DehumidifierSolutions.com.

    LESLIE: Hugh in North Carolina needs some help with a beach home. What can we do for you?

    HUGH: Hi, Leslie and Tom. Thank you for taking my call.

    TOM: You’re welcome.

    HUGH: A little quick summary. We bought a beach house last year that we live in full-time. It was new but hadn’t been lived in for four years. Basically, it’s a reverse floor plan, which means your living quarters are on the top floor and you’re sleeping – bedrooms are on the second floor (inaudible at 0:15:09).

    TOM: OK.

    HUGH: And when you’re laying in bed at night, if the dogs are walking around or if anybody’s upstairs, you can hear through the ceiling. And the floor is just – I’m trying to figure out a way to dampen that noise or maybe soundproof. But the walls are intact, so I don’t really want to tear anything out. I didn’t know if you had any ideas how to retro some kind of dampening – sound dampener.

    LESLIE: In the ceiling of the bedrooms, are you dealing with a lot of high hats or hard-wired light fixtures? Like would it be a huge pain in the butt to put a second layer of drywall up there?

    HUGH: Really, the only thing that’s on the ceiling is a fan and a light.

    TOM: Well, there are a couple of ways to quiet the transference of sound between rooms. Unfortunately, most of them require taking apart your existing ceiling or walls. There are specialty types of wallboard that can go up that will deaden the sound. These are laminated wallboards that are designed to have sort of a sound baffling inside them.

    I know Lowe’s sells one called QuietRock but replacing the wallboard is only part of it. You also have to get into the frame of the ceiling and seal up any gaps – like where wires go through, plumbing vents go through, things like that – because it really is a comprehensive solution. And that’s the right way and sort of the long way to do that.

    Short of that, I guess you could try to do this from the top side by replacing the floor, pulling the carpet up if that’s what’s down there, putting some sound deadening underneath that and then re-laying it down. But it’s kind of hard to chase it after the fact. The best sound deadening is done when the walls are open and not drywalled.

    HUGH: Yeah, I agree with that. Yeah, I was trying to think of a way without doing a big remodel. We’ve only been in here not quite a year.

    TOM: Well, you could put a second layer of drywall on. Maybe it wouldn’t be as good as if you tore the whole thing out but you could do something really inexpensively and use a product called Green Glue, which basically creates sort of an insulation space between different layers of it. The Green Glue is still pretty expensive but it is designed to stop some sound transfer.

    HUGH: Well, have you ever heard of anything – I’ve been trying to work this through my mind and I just don’t know enough about it – if there’s any type of that – maybe doing holes and using some type of expanding foam or something that would be designed to do that maybe.

    TOM: You know, there’s a rumor that insulating spaces like that will quiet the sound and it does a little bit but it doesn’t make a big difference. So, no, I don’t think you can do anything like that.

    HUGH: OK. Well, I do appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Paul in Arkansas is on the line with a leak from the garage. Tell us what’s going on.

    PAUL: When we have snow and ice on our vehicles and we pull into the garage and shut the door, the – all that snow and ice melts and turns into water, puddles on the floor. And the garage is sloped just a bit, I guess, towards the house. And I guess it’s seeping or running underneath that wall that separates the house from the garage and it’s soaking our carpet.

    TOM: Wow. Boy, you must have a lot of stuff dripping off that car.

    PAUL: Well, at times we do. And we’ve lived here two years and just recently started having this problem.

    TOM: Right. Well, there should be a sealer underneath the wall plate when that wall is framed and it might be that that’s missing and giving it an easy entrée. What I think I might try to do is pull off the baseboard molding, if you have it on the garage side. And I would use expandable polystyrene foam, like the GREAT STUFF? And I would try to foam that gap between the floor and the wall.

    And the trick here is to let the foam dry, because it’ll be really gooey and puffy. Then after it’s dried, you can come back with a utility knife or a file or a rasp and sort of clean it up against the wall. Then you can put the trim back up. And that should seal that gap nicely, at least enough to keep the water puddles from getting under the wall, until they have a chance to dry out.

    PAUL: OK. So that foam is pretty much waterproof then?

    TOM: Yes, absolutely.

    PAUL: OK. Great.

    TOM: It’s pretty much indestructible. We’re pretty sure it’s going to be here for the next millennium.

    LESLIE: It’s going to outlive all of us.

    PAUL: Well, that sounds great. I sure appreciate it.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Paul. 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.

    Hey, are you tired of constantly turning up the thermostat, turning down the thermostat, grabbing a sweater, raising it again? How about one thermostat that will learn your favorite temperatures and how you actually heat and cool your house? We’re going to talk to the inventor of the Nest Thermostat, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Quicken Loans. Call Quicken Loans today at 888-450-0024 or go to QuickenLoans.com to receive your free home-loan review. They’ll give you their best possible mortgage at their best possible rate, in the shortest amount of time. That number, again, is 888-450-0024. Equal housing lender. Licensed in all 50 states. NMLS Number 3030. Call today. 888-450-0024.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And possibly the hottest product in the home improvement world right now is a cool, little gadget called Nest. It’s just a thermostat but it can change the way you heat and cool your house and impact the energy it costs to do just that.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And the inventor of Nest comes to us from Apple.

    Now, the brains that went into the iPod and the iPhone are now working to help you save energy and it looks just as cool as all those other products. And the inventor is Tony Fadell and he’s joining us now.

    Welcome, Tony.

    TONY: Thank you.

    TOM: So, Tony, what does Nest do that’s different from other thermostats?

    TONY: So what Nest is specifically different is that it is one, easy to use. And so what we’ve found that most thermostats – 90 percent of the thermostats in the U.S. are not programmed to save any energy. And so by making it very easy to use and to do things like auto-schedule and auto-away, we can simply allow people to save energy and – while still staying comfortable. But they’re not nagged by always having to turn the thermostat up and down whenever they go to sleep or maybe when they leave the house during the day to go to work or what have you.

    So, what we try to do is take the easy adjustments that you would do every day to save energy and simply learn those adjustments and then play them back day in and day out so that you don’t have to do that.

    LESLIE: And how does it actually learn?

    TONY: Well, we have sophisticated sensors on board and algorithms that actually just simply watch what you do. So if you turn it up at 8:00 a.m. and then you turn it down at maybe 9:00 a.m. when you go to work and then you come back at home at 5:00 and turn it back up and then turn it down at night, we just watch simply your – those manual adjustments that you make. And then we record that in a schedule and then we play that back each day.

    And as you continue to make modifications as the seasons change, we watch those modifications and we continue to play those back. So it’s very simply a smart manual thermostat as opposed to a programmed thermostat where you always have to go in and schedule every single time period that you want a certain temperature or when you’re going away. You have to go and actually manually turn it off when you go out for maybe a vacation for a weekend. And so we can actually sense that, as well.

    TOM: And for many years, we’ve been encouraging folks to purchase and install programmable thermostats but I think for – in a large part of the population, these have gone the way of the old VCRs that people could never program. They would always blink 12:00 noon.

    TONY: Exactly. Ninety percent of thermostats – that’s a quarter-of-a-billion thermostats in the U.S. – are not programmed properly to save any energy. And that’s not just to be green but that’s also a lot of money, right? A thermostat, in a typical home in the U.S., will consume between $1,200 and $1,500 in fuel each year. We believe in most homes, you can save between 20 and 30 percent of that energy, or those dollars spent, by simply turning it down at night and turning it down when you’re away. And we do that automatically.

    TOM: We’re talking to Tony Fadell. He’s the founder and CEO of Nest: a very cool, very smart thermostat that is really taking the market by storm.

    I understand it’s a bit hard to get your hands on one of these these days. I guess that’s a good problem to have, huh?

    TONY: It’s a great problem to have. We were overwhelmed with demand when we first launched the company and the product in October. And we are just now catching up but it’s still very, very difficult to find. We hope to make more generally available for people over the next – as soon as early spring.

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s great. And generally, it’s a product that you have to have professionally installed, correct?

    TONY: The Nest Learning Thermostat, right now we have many, many thermostats installed in the U.S. And 90 to 95 percent of them have been self-installed. We’ve had not just tech geeks installing them, we’ve had homeowners, we’ve had single mothers installing them. And they do it in 25 minutes, 30 minutes.

    So we’ve been very surprised by the number of people who want to take this step into a more energy-efficient thermostat and doing it themselves. Because we designed it to make it real easy, so easy that we actually include the screwdriver right in the box and all of the instructions necessary.

    TOM: Now, if you had two thermostats – say, one that handled upstairs, one that handled downstairs, perhaps one that handled heat, one that handled air conditioning – is there anything special about installing Nest in a situation like that?

    TONY: We have many homes right now with multiple Nest thermostats installed in them and they work together. So let’s say when you go away and you turn it into auto-away mode or into away mode, it will tell the other thermostat in the house to also go into away mode. Because there are many homes – there’s an average of 1.5 thermostats per home. We’ve seen homes with four – the larger homes being four, five, six thermostats – and it’s just too cumbersome. So we make sure that they all coordinate and work together to help you save energy.

    TOM: Now, is there a web-based interface where you could change the temperature? Say you’re coming home early and you want to turn the heat up?

    TONY: Yes, absolutely. We have made sure that the way we designed the Nest Learning Thermostat was for the iPhone generation. We believe that everyone’s going to carry the interface to their home in their pocket wherever they go. So we have an iPhone application, we have an iPad application, we have an Android application, as well as a web-browser application for you to gain access to your thermostats anywhere in the world.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I know it’s all password-protected, so I’m not logging in and adjusting my sister’s thermostat just to mess with her, correct?

    TONY: It’s all password-protected.

    LESLIE: OK.

    TONY: We use the latest and greatest security protocols to make sure that we keep your data secure and private.

    TOM: Really interesting.

    Tony, what other plans do you have for innovations? There are other products like this around the home that you’re thinking about turning on its ear, so to speak?

    TONY: For us, right now, I look at my previous employer and we started with just the iPod. And over time, it grew out and 10 years later became the iPad.

    TOM: Right.

    TONY: But that was only because we pleased our customers and brought innovation to that first product. And so right now, what we’re doing is we want to please our customers with the Nest Learning Thermostat. We still think there’s a lot to do around that product. And if everybody likes it and we do as well as we hope we will, then we’ll have other things. But our goal is to do more things in the home but right now, we just want to make sure our customers are happy with the Nest Learning Thermostat.

    TOM: Tony Fadell, Founder and CEO of Nest, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. And we look forward to your future innovations.

    TONY: Thank you very much, Tom. Thank you, Leslie.

    TOM: If you’d like more information on Nest, you should check out their website at Nest.com. That’s N-e-s-t.com.

    LESLIE: Well, as long as we’re on the subject of energy efficiency, are you tired of throwing away your money on all of those energy bills? Why not take advantage of this March 17th – you know, St. Patrick’s Day – to go green? We’re going to give you some suggestions, after this.

    (theme song)

    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 here is 888-MONEY-PIT. Picking up the phone and dialing 888-666-3974 will put your name in The Money Pit hard hat for a chance to win the Power Painter Plus from Wagner.

    This is no ordinary power-painting system. It’s got a very cool technology called the EZ Tilt flex tube. It draws paint, no matter which direction the sprayer is pointed, down at the decks or straight up at the gutters. It gives you a finish that’s as good as a professional painter with that expensive paint gun. But this one, it’s not expensive. It’s worth 130 bucks but it’s going to go out for free to one caller who has the courage to pick up the phone and call us with their home improvement question. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got – Tom in Michigan is on the line who’s ready to take us on an attic adventure. Tell us what’s going on.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: I was just wondering, I’ve got a roof leak or had a roof leak. Once the roof leak stopped, I’ve got what looks like mold on the boards and in the rafters?

    TOM: OK.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: What can be done about that other than just tearing all the wood out and replacing it all?

    TOM: You don’t have to get too emotional about this. If you get a leak and you get some mold or some algae growth on the underside of the plywood, the thing is that once you’ve taken the moisture away from this, it’s not going to get any further; it’s not going to decay any further.

    And so as long as it’s not rotted now, the fact that you’ve got a little bit of mold stain there, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. If it’ll make you feel better, you could mix up a bleach-and-water solution, put it in a plant sprayer – like a pump-up sprayer – and just saturate those areas that look moldy. That will kill anything that’s left behind. But I would definitely not tear things out just because it got a little moldy because of the roof leak. That’s pretty common, actually.

    TOM IN MICHIGAN: Alright. I appreciate it.

    TOM: Well, for most people, St. Patrick’s Day is associated with the wearing of the green. But for us, it means going green, because Leslie and I always find a way to tie home improvement into every imaginable holiday.

    LESLIE: Yes, we do.

    TOM: Alright. Mother’s Day pushed it a little bit – yeah, I will give you that – but we can find a way to make it work. The thing is, though, if you’re thinking about going green, you don’t have to go totally green. There are sort of shades of green that you can add to your house. So if you’re not ready to dive deep into dark green, you can sort of try light green.

    And this could include simple things like, for example, switching to an energy-efficient light bulb, to recycling using natural cleaning supplies, things like that. The key is to do it, folks, in stages.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, if you’ve already done those things, why not step it up to that medium shade of green? And that might include a low-flow toilet or even a dual-flush system, getting a programmable thermostat or growing some of your own food in your garden. And if you’re ready to take the plunge into dark green – and the savings will add up big-time – you want to think about solar panels, a windmill or even a rainwater-harvesting system.

    Now, no matter what shade of green that you’re ready to wear, you won’t just be wearing the green, you will be saving it, as well.

    TOM: Absolutely. So if you’re going to think green, think shades of green and pick the right shade for you. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Jessica in Texas is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?

    JESSICA: Hi. I wanted to find out – we were going to install wood flooring and I’m debating between the laminate and regular wood. And also, we have three kids and so I want to know which one’s easier to clean and take care of.

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s the killer right there. If you’ve got kids, if you’ve got pets and you’re going to have that kind of activity, you’re going to have the need to have a floor that is as easy as possible.

    LESLIE: Super-durable.

    TOM: Very durable, yes, and as easy as possible to care for. So, with that in mind, we would tell you that laminate flooring is probably a little easier to maintain than wood flooring. But even having said that, if you are going to go with wood flooring, Jessica, you want to get one that has the best warranty possible because the finishes – I mean there are finishes right now that could last 50 years. I know Lumber Liquidators has got a – what is it? – Bellawood line that has a 50-year warranty on it.

    LESLIE: Bellawood, yeah.

    TOM: You’ve got to get something that’s got a really good warranty finish on it.

    LESLIE: Almost like a commercial finish on it, as well.

    TOM: Well, exactly, because that’s what’s going to stand up to that kind of traffic. The care is totally different for wood floors: you don’t use very much moisture at all with them when you care for them.

    LESLIE: Like a damp – really damp like …

    TOM: Yeah, very damp mop or not – I should say just a very-slightly damp mop. Laminate flooring, you could be a little more aggressive with. We have three kids that we brought up on our laminate floor and I’ve got to tell you, it was the right choice for us. But of course, it’s never going to look exactly like wood.

    JESSICA: Right.

    TOM: It could do pretty well but it’s not going to look exactly like it.

    JESSICA: OK. Which one’s easier to install by yourself? Is laminate pretty …?

    TOM: Laminate and engineered hardwood, which is similar to solid hardwood except it’s made up in layers. Both of those are floating installations where the tiles or the floor pieces sort of click together.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, they snap together and then lock down.

    TOM: Right. They don’t get glued down.

    JESSICA: Oh, OK.

    TOM: They float and then you use molding around the outside of the room to trim up that last space.

    JESSICA: OK, great. Thank you so much for you guys’ time.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, can you ever have too much insulation? We’re going to talk about R-values and how to figure out which one is right for you, after this.

    (theme song)

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, have you had a basement water problem this spring? Chances are the problem isn’t in your basement at all; it’s probably outside with your drainage system. Just head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com and search “basement waterproofing tips” for the step-by-step to prevent another soaking.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you’ve got a question, jump on to our Community section and post your question, like G from Louisiana did, who wrote: “I’m putting more insulation over existing roll insulation: 2 layers, approximately 8 inches total. For only $2 more, I can put down R-30 instead of R-13. Would it be better to put in the R-30 since I’m up there putting it in anyway or am I just wasting my money?”

    TOM: So, you’re more than doubling your insulation for 2 bucks more? I think that it’s kind of a no-brainer, G.

    Basically, you want to put in as much insulation reasonably that you can get into an attic space. And for the most part, 30 inches is not that far off of the average amount of insulation you would need anywhere in the country. So, I would definitely say to go with the R-30 instead of the R-13. R-13 is actually way under-insulated. So the more is better up there but make sure you also add plenty of ventilation so that you don’t let the insulation get too damp. If it’s allowed to get too damp, it’s just not going to do a very good job warming up your house.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s a good point.

    Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Holly in Indiana who writes: “My bathroom sink clogs occasionally. A liquid drain cleaner seems to do the job but I’m concerned I’m damaging my pipes, not to mention the environment. Should I have it snaked or is a drain cleaner OK once in a while?”

    TOM: You know, I really don’t have any use for liquid drain cleaners. I mean for the most part, I’ll always go for a mechanical solution to a clogged pipe. I’ll always take the drain apart, I’ll snake it out. There’s usually a better way to get it out. I have just never had a lot of real success with liquid drain cleaners. I’m sure they have their place. I just personally haven’t really had any need for them.

    LESLIE: Right. And they’re really not good for the plumbing system, they’re definitely not good for the environment and it’s really a short-term fix.

    TOM: And potentially caustic, too, especially if it splashes back up at you.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. So you’re really better off calling in a pro or sort of diving into this yourself.

    TOM: Well, if your house has been closed up and gathering dust all winter, it is time to take on some spring cleaning. And that generally includes the vacuum cleaner. But how do you pick the right one? If yours is not doing the job, Leslie has got some tips in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. It might not be the most glamorous thing that you’re going to buy. It’s certainly not an awesome pair of high heels. But the right vacuum cleaner is going to make your life a lot easier.

    First of all, you need to consider the type of vacuum. If you’ve got wall-to-wall carpets, an upright’s probably going to do the trick for you. Now, a canister is better for varied flooring but they can be tougher to lug around.

    Also, you want to consider saying no to some of the attachments. For example, don’t pay for that drapery attachment if you’ve only got blinds. Also, learn a little bit about filtration systems. The level of filtration is going to vary from zero, which would use a bag to collect the dirt, to very sophisticated systems that will filter out pollen and even tiny particulates.

    Now, a bag might be all you need but units with filtration systems, they’re great but they tend to cost a lot more. But if you’ve got allergies or, say, a pet in your house, you might want that because it’ll reduce the irritants that are just going to upset your respiratory system. So, like anything else, do your homework first, shop around, look at the different options and then find yourself an awesome vacuum.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, has your lawn mower been gathering dust all winter? It might be time to drag it out and make sure it’s ready to go. We will give you the step-by-step to make sure you fire up the first time you try, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    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.

    (theme song)

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (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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