Hacks for Holiday Hassles, Garage Heating Options, and the New, Easy Way to Keep Your Car’s Tires Shining
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 we are here to help you tackle your home improvement project. We’re here to help you solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. If you’re working on a project inside your house, outside your house, pick up the phone and call us. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Getting ready for holiday guests? They’re coming. They’ll be here in just a week or two, well, depending on how early you let them in your door. Pretty soon.
Now, there’s a trick to this, Leslie, though. You want to make your house comfortable but not so comfortable that they don’t want to go home. Because we want them to stay but not too much.
LESLIE: Yeah, you definitely want them to leave at some point. But you have to make the rooms nice because they’re your guests, after all.
TOM: So we’ll give you some advice on just the right amount of comfort for your holiday guests if you call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Hey, coming up on today’s program, did you ever wonder the difference was between a garage that you can use in, say, a home workshop or a gym and one that you can’t? Well, it’s as often as little as about 20 or 30 degrees. That’s all the heat you need to bring up that space above ambient to make it very, very useful. So we’ve got tips to help you heat your garage, coming up in just a bit.
LESLIE: And the holidays are hectic enough. And that really leaves very little time for things to go wrong. But what happens when they do go wrong? Well, we’re going to have simple solutions to solve the most common holiday home improvement hassles, just ahead.
TOM: And one lucky caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Caseta Wireless Plug-In Lamp Dimmer. Because let’s face it, who wants to have to get up and walk across the room to change your light switch, right, when you could do it from the comfort of your easy chair?
LESLIE: No. And this is awesome. You just plug it into the outlet and then, I guess, plug your light into it. And then you don’t have to get up. Everything can go off. Then you can also check, you know – you can turn the TV channels. You really don’t have to get up for anything. You can open your windows, make sure things are locked. I love it. Home automation rules.
TOM: If you aspire to become a couch potato, I mean this is sort of required equipment. That’s what it sounds like to me.
LESLIE: This is like a couch potato’s heaven right now what’s going on in home improvement. It’s like I can be so lazy and high-tech.
TOM: It’s a prize worth 80 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. If you’d like that to be you, pick up the phone, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Robert in Arkansas, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
ROBERT: Well, I am trying to find something that seems that nobody makes anymore. I’m looking for a metal, continual ridge vent for steel roofing. What I’ve got in my hand is the letter U and had a wing on both sides, flat in the bottom, on some 10-foot sticks. And it’s cut to fit the corrugation on the steel. And then the roof cap screws to it: a separate, independent piece. And it’s made out of metal and it’s perforated.
TOM: It’s a ridge vent, essentially, that’s a metal ridge vent. But you’re saying it’s designed specifically for metal roofs?
ROBERT: Right. Specifically for metal roofs. And for decades, I’ve got it and I put a roof on over 15 years ago. And we had the bad storm that went through and I’ve got to replace parts of it. But no one – big box, little box, some steel manufacturers – can find this vent for me. And I know it comes in 10-foot sticks and it’s the metal piece that screws down to the roofing and then your ridge cap screws onto it.
TOM: So, John, first of all, a ridge vent is a really good thing to have because it provides an area of the roof where, as wind blows over it, it will depressurize and pull warm air out of the building. I can see that it might be a challenge to find a ridge vent that’s specifically designed for metal roofs but there are a number of manufacturers out there that make them.
There’s a product called Flex-O-Vent that is designed specifically for ridge vents. There’s another company called Plyco – P-l-y-c-o – that has another vent that’s specifically designed for metal roofs – a ridge vent for metal roofs. I think if you check out those two brands, you may find one that works for you.
And then you’ve got to try to, obviously, get the supplier – find a supplier locally. Now, some suppliers will be able to order this stuff in. But if you contact these companies, they may be able to ship them. I see that they come in at least – I guess with the Plyco – comes in 8-foot lengths and I’m not so sure about the Flex-O-Vent. But they certainly come in lengths that may be shippable to your location, OK?
ROBERT: Got it. I will definitely look them up. I appreciate it.
TOM: Good luck. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Leigh on the line with a real-estate question.
LEIGH: We are a military couple and we have five children. We’re just trying to decide when we should put our house up on the market. We just got orders to go to a new base and we’re trying to decide if we should put it up now or wait a few months, when the best time would be for that.
TOM: Wow. Well, first of all, thank you for your service. And that’s quite a challenge that you have. You’ve got five kids and you’ve got to move. I would say that you’d be better off putting it up now and not waiting, even though it doesn’t seem like it’s the best time of year to sell. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, as my dad always used to say. And if you can sell that house now rather than risk not having it sold by the time it’s time for you to move, that’s the best possible scenario.
If you find a buyer that’s really cooperative, they might even be able to extend the closing date to give you the time that you need to get to the new base. But I guess if I was faced with that scenario, I would probably try to get the home on the market as quickly as possible.
LEIGH: OK. Sounds good. Thank you.
TOM: You’re very welcome. 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.
We are screeching towards the holidays. I say “screeching” because it’s coming fast. But are you ready or are you not ready? Well, don’t worry. We’re going to help you get ready. Give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Still ahead, don’t let home repair hassles ruin your holiday memories. We’ve got tips to help you avoid the most common home and kitchen problems, just ahead of holiday guests, when The Money Pit continues after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, 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: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
If you do, you might just win a great prize we’re giving away this hour. We’ve got the Lutron Caseta Plug-In Wireless Lamp Dimmer with the Pico Remote.
LESLIE: Yeah. You just plug it into any standard outlet and then you plug your lamps into it and you can adjust your lights with a remote control. It’s going to work with incandescent bulbs, CFL or even LED bulbs. And we’re giving the dimmer and remote away this hour to one lucky caller. It’s worth 80 bucks.
TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Mark in Oregon on the line who needs some help with a hardwood-flooring project. Tell us what you’re working on.
MARK: Got an old wood floor – hardwood floor – that is looking, oh, kind of rough but I don’t really want to put a showroom shine on it. But yet I still want to keep it protected and I kind of want to keep it clean. So I was wondering if there’s a product that you would suggest to more or less not refinish it but yet keep it maintained, I guess.
TOM: Well, so, what you’re saying is that you don’t want to go all in and have it – and totally sand it down. You just want to sort of brush it up a little bit? Is that correct?
MARK: Yeah, because it’s well-used. It’s in a dining room but yet I think I kind of like that antique or almost museum look to it.
TOM: Is any of it worn down to the bone? Do you see the raw wood anywhere or is it just scuffed up a bit?
MARK: It’s pretty much scuffed and worn down, I would say, yeah. But it’s not bad looking; it’s just – I just don’t want to really put a shine on it and make it look like it’s a brand-new hardwood floor.
TOM: You’re going to need to pull all the furniture out of the room and then you have to do a light sanding of the floor. If it’s not really worn out to the point where it’s got cracks or crevices or digs or areas where the stain is missing or anything like that, it’s just sort of roughed up a bit, you can do a light sanding. And the easiest way to do that is with a floor sander and a sanding screen on it.
You go out and rent one of these floor sanders, like you see used at a commercial building or the mall or someplace like that. And then they’ll give you, at the store, a couple of sanding screens that go underneath it. And then you very carefully and slowly – you do like a light sanding of the whole thing.
And then you’ll have to hand-sand along the baseboard and the corners and so on. Then damp-mop it, just to make sure you get up all of the dust. Vacuum and damp-mop it. And then what you can do is apply two or three coats of satin polyurethane. You could even get flat polyurethane if you want absolutely no sheen to it. But satin usually has just enough sheen to protect it but not be too obvious.
And you apply that with – not with a brush but with a lambswool applicator. You pretty much mop it on with the lambswool applicator and stay out of the room for a couple of days and you’ll be good to go.
MARK: Well, it sounds great to me. I’ll give it a try.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project, Mark. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Phyllis in Ohio, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
PHYLLIS: I have a trellis. It’s on – I just have a small porch. And in the wintertime, especially, the wind comes ferociously from the northwest. And I – the trellis is put up on – screwed up on 2x4s. And I was wondering – I was going to get a good grade of plastic. Should it be put on the outside or the inside of the trellis?
LESLIE: Plastic to protect from the wind or plastic to protect the lumber?
PHYLLIS: No, plastic so the wind doesn’t blow into my front door. And I had the trellis put up so I could – in the spring, I want to put flowers, a vine up there. But for now, I want plastic to keep the wind away from my front door.
TOM: Do you have a storm door on your front door?
PHYLLIS: Yes. But it still comes through.
TOM: Now, this trellis, as you describe it, I mean there’s a lot of different types of trellises. Is this a trellis that’s flat on the wall or is this sort of like a portico, where it kind of goes out and surrounds the door?
PHYLLIS: No. It’s on the porch. I imagine my porch is probably, maybe, 4 or 5 feet wide. But it’s on the porch, on the outside of the porch, on 2x4s.
TOM: I see. So, basically – and the porch has a roof, right? So it’s not just a deck?
PHYLLIS: Right. It’s got the – it’s got a roof, uh-huh.
TOM: So you kind of want to enclose your porch, so to speak, with this plastic sheeting, is what you’re suggesting.
PHYLLIS: On that one spot, yes, where the – it’s right there as I go in and out the door.
TOM: Alright. Well, it – probably not going to be that attractive but I guess what I would do is put it on the outside. Because this way, as the wind blows against it, it’ll press against the trellis and it will be less likely to tear. If you put it on the inside, the wind’s going to go through it and it will constantly pull itself off the trellis.
TOM: So I think it’ll be securer if you put it on the outside. And as the wind blows against it, you know, that trellis will help support it.
PHYLLIS: OK. Fine. Thank you.
TOM: Alright. Good luck, Phyllis. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, if you’ve got pride of ownership in your home and you enjoy taking care of it, we figure you might just feel the same way about your car. I know around my neighborhood, if we’re not picking up our paintbrushes on the weekends, we’re out there cleaning out our cars.
LESLIE: Yeah. Clearly, you’re not watching my house. My car is a mess.
But guys, you can now have a squeaky-clean car all the time, because we want to share some news that we think you’re really going to love. The place where you shop for that paintbrush is the same place where you can shop for all your car-cleaning supplies and accessories. It’s The Home Depot.
TOM: Yep. We’re helping spread the word about the expanded automotive department, both in store and online. You can even get everything you need for your car’s oil change.
LESLIE: And lots of great choices when it comes to keeping your car in tip-top shape, like Barrett-Jackson Premium Tire Shine. After your tires are clean, you can put the shine back with Barrett-Jackson Premium Tire Shine. It penetrates the rubber and it’s going to dry to the touch with no wiping needed.
TOM: Pick up that and many other auto-care supplies at The Home Depot and online at HomeDepot.com.
LESLIE: Scott, you’ve got The Money Pit. What’s going on at your house?
SCOTT: Well, in the wintertime, we have a little mold around the windows and I can’t seem to alleviate it. So, I was wondering if you guys had any ideas. Mainly in the wintertime.
TOM: So, the mold is going to form where you have moisture and you have a food source that’s organic, which could be wood trim, for example. Or frankly, even dust can do that and air, of course. So when you find the mold, what happens is, very often, people will just try to wipe it away but they end up leaving residual pieces of it behind.
So I would suggest you do is to mix up a bleach-and-water solution where it’s about, say, 25-percent bleach and about 75-percent water. And spray it lightly around that area, being careful to keep it away from drapes or anything like that that you’re concerned about staining. And let it sit. And that will kill the spores that are behind the mold and then you can wipe it off. If it’s just a little bit, that’s OK to do yourself without much risk of exposure. Does that make sense?
SCOTT: It makes sense. I’ve done it before but I’ve never let it sit any time. I’ve just sprayed it on and wiped it off.
TOM: That’s generally what people do and it makes a difference if you let it sit, because it has to sort of take effect and really kill what’s there, and then wipe it off.
SCOTT: That sounds pretty good. I can do that.
TOM: Good luck, Scott. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Twyla in Nebraska is on the line with a carpeting question. How can we help you today?
TWYLA: Well, I have a cement-slab house and I need to replace the carpet in it that is – currently, I have carpet in all the bedrooms and the hallway. And I was wondering whether I should go with laminate or whether I should go ahead and remain with carpet.
TOM: Well, if you like the comfort of the carpet underfoot, the hard thing to deal with when it comes to those concrete slabs is that they’re super-cold. So while you could replace them with laminate floor, the problem with the laminate is that it might be a bit chillier. You’d have to probably use area rugs. So if you’re comfortable with the carpet, there’s no reason not to replace it with new carpet.
There is a trade-off, though. Because, of course, carpet needs a little bit more maintenance than laminate but it certainly is a lot warmer underfoot. Does that make sense, Twyla?
TWYLA: But you have to put something underneath the laminate, right?
LESLIE: You’ll see. Depending on the brand of laminate flooring that you select, there’s a different kind of underlayment that that manufacturer will recommend. And by underlayment, usually it’s a thin roll of foam. Sometimes the underlayment is attached directly to the back side of the laminate flooring. It really varies per manufacturer. But there is something that you’ll put in between the concrete and the flooring itself.
TWYLA: OK. Now, do you have a recommendation on brand of laminate?
TOM: There are lots of great brands out there. I would look for a name brand. You could look at Lumber Liquidators, you could look at Armstrong. Those are all good places to start. And just check out their websites. Get a sense as to the options and you can narrow it down from there. OK, Twyla?
TWYLA: OK. I thank you very, very much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Alfred, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?
ALFRED: I’ve got a duplex. And I got this idea from truck-stop restrooms – from the truck-stop showers? I drive a truck. Anyways, my question is – in the showers that I’ve seen or the bathrooms I’ve seen, the floor covering goes up on the sides of the – up to the wall, say, about 3 or 4 inches, you know. So I guess when you spill water or something like that, it doesn’t go down in the floor or whatever. Because the problem I had in my duplex is that someone would run the bathtub over or something will leak and it goes down to my kitchen down below. And I’m redoing that bathroom and I’ve seen this thing in the commercial bathrooms. And I was wondering, is there something that I can do similar? Is it like a liquid epoxy?
TOM: Yeah. So what they’re doing in that situation is they’re essentially taking the entire floor and turning it into a shower pan. You know how if you have a shower where you have a tile pan and the pan has the drain in it and you step in the shower and the water falls in the floor and then it runs in the drain. So think about that but for the same size, the basically full width of the shower – of the bathroom itself.
I’ve seen bathrooms in Europe that are done that way. I’ve seen some in the United States but it’s not too common. So, sure, it’s entirely possible to do that but it dramatically raises the cost of the bathroom build-out, which could be weighed against the occasional leak getting through. It’s not a common occurrence for leaks to come through bathrooms, so much so that I would recommend that everyone do that. But if you want to kind of go the extra mile and don’t mind the expense and work, you certainly could build a shower pan that’s the entire width of your bathroom.
ALFRED: Oh, I’ve got you. Do you have an idea what I can – what product I can use that does that? How would I actually do that?
TOM: So, shower pans can be made of lead or they can be made of fiberglass. They essentially have to be sort of molded in place and then they’re covered with tile.
ALFRED: OK. That’s how it’s done. I’ve got you, I’ve got you.
TOM: It’s like a pool. Think about if you were trying to build a pool, you know? It has to – the base itself has to be absolutely waterproof and then the tile covers it.
ALFRED: Oh, OK. I’ve got you, I’ve got you. Awesome, awesome. Well, that’s great. Well, I definitely appreciate your time to answer my question. Thank you very much.
TOM: Our pleasure, Alfred. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
He brings up a very good point, that you can get ideas and inspiration no matter where you are. Here he is, a long-haul trucker and sees this kind of a shower setup in one of the establishments that he stopped in and was thinking about whether he could do it at home. Makes sense.
LESLIE: Not sure where to start? Well, we’re going to talk garage-heating options with Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House when The Money Pit continues.
TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by STANLEY Mechanics Tool Sets. No matter if your project is automotive, recreational or home improvements, you can rely on STANLEY Mechanics Tools for versatility, durability and to get the job done right.
MARILU: Hi. This is Marilu Henner from The Marilu Henner Show. And I’m obsessed with these guys. You’re listening to The Money Pit, my buddies Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, the holiday means your kitchen and your energy bill are about to go into overdrive. You can save some of that money for yourself or add it to your shopping budget with some kitchen-efficiency tips that can help you save big. Learn how to keep utility bills down but holiday spirits high. It’s all on the home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Jim in Oregon with a paneling question. Tell us what you’re working on.
JIM: I’ve got a house that was built in the early 1950s and I moved into it in the 70s. And it didn’t have any insulation in the walls of the house, so I took the interior paneling off, which was – ¼-inch plywood was all it was. And then I put insulation behind that and of course, rewired it at the same time.
And then when I put the ¼-inch paneling back, after I put the insulation in, then I put – of course, it was in the 70s, the big paneling era. So I just put paneling over the top of that. Now I want to kind of upgrade it a little bit and I’m not too sure if my best route would be to clean the paneling really well and paint it or clean the paneling really well and have somebody come in and spray it, like you do sheetrock. Or maybe I should put ¼-inch sheetrock over the top of it and tape it off and then spray it. Or possibility of putting – on every stud, put a 2×2 on the stud and then put the insulation in that looks like Styrofoam with the tin foil on each side and then a panel over – or sheetrock over the top of that. So, I’m kind of looking at dollars and cents in which way to go.
TOM: Wow, you have a lot of choices. Do we want – we really want a cosmetic solution here?
TOM: That’s the case, there’s no reason you can’t paint this.
Paint on paneling can look quite attractive if it’s done well. Right, Leslie? But I think priming is probably important.
LESLIE: Yeah. You’re right about wanting to clean it. Then you’re definitely needing to prime it with a very good-quality primer, because you want it to adhere very well to the paneling. And depending on if this is actual wood paneling or some sort of wood-like paneling, you just want it to stick well. And then I would go with whatever paint over it.
The issue here is whether or not you like the look of the vertical lines. If you like them, then you’re going to love it painted. Because somehow, white paneling looks fantastic, especially if you’ve got a décor and a home style that lends itself to that look. It can really work for you.
I really wouldn’t paint it any other color because then it’s like, “Oh, that’s painted paneling.” Where suddenly, in white, it’s like, “Oh, it’s got a country chic-ish charm to it.” But it’s really up to you whether that’s a look that you like and will enjoy. If you can work with it, then I definitely say go for the paint.
JIM: So if I painted white on it, my big-horn sheep hanging on the wall and the antelope and stuff would stand out really well then.
TOM: Yeah, I bet they would.
LESLIE: That’s a whole ‘nother conversation for another day.
JIM: Yeah, I can just understand. I used to own a sporting-goods store, so I understand that.
TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us, Jim, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re an avid DIYer and happen to have a garage, you can bet there are many projects that get worked on in that space.
LESLIE: Ah, yes. But in winter, that gets pretty tough because the garage is the one place under roof that is not heated. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to add heat to the garage. And with us to talk through some of those options is Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House.
RICHARD: Hi, guys. It seems like I’ve been in the garage for about 35 years.
TOM: I think so.
TOM: But the garage is one of those great, untapped spaces for a workshop, for a hobby area or for lots of other things. Yet heat is all that stands between using that space year-round or simply using it seasonally, right?
RICHARD: Well, adding garage heating is a task that’s become very common for homeowners. I mean they really want to extend the living space. Dad wants a place to hang out away from the teenage kids. And today, garages are laundry rooms, they’re workshops, they’re play areas. They’re even niches for pets. So some people even do garage conversions to turn it into almost a man cave or a mommy cave.
TOM: So, you have to make a decision when it comes to how you’re going to heat that garage. I think some folks might think, “Well, why can’t I just extend my existing heating system?” But it’s not quite that simple, is it?
RICHARD: Yeah, you’re not going to extend a conventional ductwork through the outside spaces. And usually, these are detached garages most very often; sometimes they’re not. But many of them are detached garages.
I think you should look at – first and foremost, you look at a conventional – what they call a “wall furnace.” Now, this would be a – you’d look at it and it looks like a conventional furnace except that it is molded or stuck to the wall.
RICHARD: And now, it’s usually gas. It could be LP or propane. It could be electric. And now, you are going to – if you have flue products – if it’s gas or – if it’s gas, you’d have a vent to outside. The key to this, if you have a garage where an automobile will be there with fuel in the automobile, with paints that could be flammable, you have to make sure there is no chance of any flame coming in contact with those fumes.
So you need to have – be safe. And so, these wall furnaces work perfectly. In that case, you’d have – the air that’s in the room would be brought in through the bottom of the wall furnace, through a filter. It would get heated or cooled – rarely it’s going to be cooled for a garage – and then it would come out through the high discharge here. But the key is that the flue products – the part that’s got the heavy flame in it – it goes to outside.
TOM: Now, that’s a good point. I remember from all the years I spent as a home inspector, I think the open flame in a garage has to be no lower than about 18 inches off the floor, right?
RICHARD: That’s right. And on a related thing is you no longer can keep a water heater – conventional water heater – in a garage.
TOM: Same reason.
RICHARD: Because the mandate is if somebody spilled a bucket of paint and it came right across the floor and could be lit up by the water-heater flame, which is so low, it’s totally dangerous.
TOM: That’s why we see the plumbers put them up on a couple of blocks.
RICHARD: That’s right, that’s right. Absolutely.
TOM: So you see them up above that level for all …
RICHARD: You can’t be too safe when you have fumes like that.
TOM: Now, aside from the gas-fired, forced-air systems, what about infrared? That seems to be somewhat popular these days.
RICHARD: Yeah, infrared is pretty interesting. Because even in a nice, tall garage, you could use this flame. And that really heats by long-wave radiation. You have this glowing face. We’ve seen radiant-style burners in some outdoor grills. This is an infrared. Again, you want to be sure, even though you have a flame there, you want to be sure that you’re pulling the flue products out and vented. It can’t be an unvented one. There are special gas, infrared, radiant heaters that are made strictly for garages and approved as such. So make sure you do it right if you’re going to do it.
The nice thing about those is there’s no air movement. If you ever wanted to use your garage to do refinishing of wood projects or painting of automobiles or anything that’s delicate, there’s no air movement. So dust is not an issue when you have gas infrared.
I think that’s one of the places where it’s just – it’s a new tool for us and we’re loving it. Because now you could put this unit high on the side wall in that garage and not only do you get heating in the winter, you also quietly, carefully, gently get cooling in the summer. And that means you use that space all year round.
TOM: So we’re talking about the same type of split-ductless system that you might use in your house.
RICHARD: That’s right. You’ve seen them before. They’re about 3 feet long. They’re about 14 inches high, about 6 inches off the wall. It’s sort of a – they call it a “high-wall cassette.” And it’s got – it has a remote, like a television, that you can set your thermostat and turn it on, turn it off. It also dehumidifies beautifully.
TOM: Now, Richard, one of the challenges of heating a garage has to be dealing with the huge garage door, which is not known for its energy efficiency, for the usual reasons.
RICHARD: That’s right. That’s right.
TOM: Is there a way to kind of help insulate that space and block that space between the outside and the inside?
RICHARD: Well, commercial spaces – you know, commercial auto-body shops and things like that, they’ll use a thing called an “air curtain.” And that will be an actual blower that is a long, skinny blower, which actually goes right above the garage doors. And what happens is if you create an air curtain, like a wall of air that’s just streaming down, it sounds inefficient. But actually, what you’re doing is you’re creating an invisible wall which keeps the air that has already been conditioned inside the building.
So you can have the – and you can still pass through it and not lose it all. And then it’s really a powerful way to keep energy inside of a building. And that used to be it was only for commercial spaces. Now, we see them for residential application.
TOM: That’s a really cool idea.
TOM: Now, with garages, they’re typically not very well insulated. In fact, only the wall between, say, the garage and the main house has insulation in it.
TOM: So you don’t want to overlook the fact that if you’ve got some open walls, it’s going to help you if you add some insulation, too.
RICHARD: That’s right. Insulating, you can’t do it enough. But the fact is, with this garage, you’re not going to bring it to 68.
RICHARD: You don’t need to bring it to 68. You need to bring it to 50 or 55. You’ve got to get it to a place where you’re not going to see your breath and you can still use it.
TOM: Take the edge off a little.
RICHARD: That’s right.
TOM: Alright. Richard, you always take the edge off us when we’re here.
RICHARD: You guys are great.
TOM: Thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit, Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor from TV’s This Old House.
And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Lumber Liquidators. Hardwood floors for less.
Later on this hour, is a router worth the investment? Find out some cool things you can do with that tool, when The Money Pit continues after this.
TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and an opportunity to win this hour’s prize.
LESLIE: Yeah, we’re giving away the Lutron Caseta Wireless Plug-In Lamp Dimmer with Pico Remote. Now, you just plug it into any standard outlet and then you can adjust your lights simply with a remote control. That’s right. Be lazy. Hold it in your hand. Put it on a tabletop. Mount it to the wall. Whatever is easiest for you to then best control your lighting. And I mean it; we want it to be easy for you.
It’s a great prize. Check out the website. It’s CasetaWireless.com.
TOM: Worth 80 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. Let’s get back to those phones. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, the potatoes are mashed, the pumpkin pie is cooling and the guests are hungry. But what’s a homeowner to do when the unpredictable happens? Step one: don’t get caught off-guard.
LESLIE: Yeah. If your garbage disposal goes on the fritz, you want to make sure you turn off the electrical circuit. Now, use a flashlight and tongs – tongs, people, not your hand, tongs – to pull out any obstructing objects. If this doesn’t work, you want to work from inside the kitchen-base cabinet, insert an Allen wrench into the base of the disposal and then rotate clockwise and counterclockwise until that object becomes dislodged.
TOM: Now, if your electricity takes a time-out when the guests are around, there’s a good chance a circuit tripped from overuse. So you want to turn off any appliances, like hair dryers, vacuum cleaners, microwaves, any kind of appliance like that that might have triggered the outage.
LESLIE: And then go ahead and go to the main electrical-service panel. And then look for the circuit breaker that’s in the tripped position. Now, switch it off and then back to the on position and you can go ahead and plug your appliances back in, one at a time, so that the circuit isn’t going to trip again.
TOM: And if your dishwasher goes on strike after 20 of your closest friends and relatives have finished dinner, don’t panic yet. There’s a chance a large dish is simply blocking the spray arm, a very easy fix. Just reorganize the rack and run it again.
For more tips to avoid holiday home improvement hassles, log on to MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: Ooh, now we’ve got Catherine from Colorado on the line. Not something we like to deal with: pest control. What is going on with the mice and the rats?
CATHERINE: Well, the downstairs in the house is not finished. So, somehow, they’re getting in downstairs and I see little droppings, different days. So what I’ve been using so far is the – those green pellets of poison? But I’ve heard from a friend that there is a new product out there: the Ultrasonic Plug-In. So I wanted to get information about that, if you would know.
TOM: Yeah, I would skip that. I think that’s kind of junk science. So, I would skip any of those ultrasonic plug-in things.
What you want to do is a couple of things. First of all, you want to eliminate nesting areas. So around the area of your house, if you have firewood, trash cans, debris of any sort that’s anywhere near the foundation, those are nesting areas for rodents. You eliminate those. Secondly, you plug up any openings in the outside walls of that house. Now, mice need something the size of about a quarter or even less to get in, so any openings should be plugged.
Inside the house, you want to make sure that there’s no food for them. So, a lot of times, people will make mistakes by providing food when they don’t realize they’re doing it. For example, I had a friend who used to keep her pet food in the garage and it was a big sack, 50-pound, whatever it was, bag of pet food. Never really even noticed that the mice had dug themselves a nice, little front door for this that wasn’t obvious. And they were just getting a big meal every single day from the pet food. So, look for things like that where food is being left out for them. Moisture is also very attractive to rodents, so water that collects at the foundation perimeter can bring them in.
And inside the house, I think you’re doing the right thing using the baits and the poisons, because that’s – they’re very effective with most of the baits today: for example, the d-CON. One hit of that, so to speak, it takes them out. It’s just one and done.
So, I think all those things together is what’s going to control and reduce the rodent population around this house. OK, Catherine?
LESLIE: Coming up, are you thinking about hiring a pro for a project? Well, make sure that they’re properly licensed and properly insured in case something does go wrong. We’re going to tell you what credentials to look for and where to find them, when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues after this.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Glisten. Glisten makes it easy to clean, freshen and maintain your dishwasher, disposer, microwave and washing machine. So improve the performance of your appliances with cleaning solutions from Glisten, the machine-cleaning experts. Visit GlistenCleaners.com.
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: Well, holidays can do a number on home improvement budgets. If you’ve got more time than extra money this winter, there’s still a lot that you can do to enhance the value and comfort of your home. You can get seven affordable DIY home improvements perfect for these indoor months. They’re on our home page, right now, at MoneyPit.com.
LESLIE: And while you are online looking for inspiration, perhaps you’re just all confused with whatever you’re working on right now. So, e-mail us or post your question. And I’ve got one here from Ryan who writes: “Before I hire him” – OK, Ryan, I’m going to adjust that a little bit. “Before I hire him/her or the person that’s best for the job, I want to make sure that my prospective contractor carries proper insurance and licenses. Should he or she have a card that states that he’s licensed and have liability and workmen’s compensation? I assume the license would be obvious with the state’s information on it but the insurance aspect makes me wonder.”
TOM: Well, these are definitely key questions to ask a contractor before letting them and their team onto your property and into your home. Now, the license requirements are going to vary, Ryan, by state and by county and sometimes even by municipality. So a good place to start to determine what licenses are required is your local building department. Find out what licenses are required for the kind of work the contractors are going to be doing on your home and more importantly, which ones they’re required to verify.
Now, in many cases, they’ll carry a physical card that documents their license, which is much like a driver’s license. But now, in terms of insurance, you want to request the declarations page from your contractor’s insurance-liability policy. This is important because this is the page that states that they have insurance and how much insurance they actually have.
Now, you want to make sure the contractor carries both liability insurance and workmen’s comp, both of which should be stated on those declaration pages. And if you want to feel really confident about your contractor, call the insurance agency listed on that page to confirm the insurance is still in effect.
Here’s a dirty, little trick. Some contractors will purchase the insurance and then very quickly drop it, keeping that declarations page for their display folder. So you want to make sure that the insurance is active by calling the insurance company.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s really smart. I mean I know even when I’m doing interior-design projects with clients in the city or wherever, if I’m using a painter, I have to make sure that the painter puts that client’s name on their certificate of insurance. Then I provide that to my client, just so that everybody’s covered. Those are things you really do need to look out for.
TOM: That’s a good point. That’s called an “additional insured.” If you really want to be careful, you can have your name added to their dec page as an additional insured. And that will make sure that you’re absolutely covered.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s really important.
Alright. Next, we’ve got a post from Kate who writes: “I was excited to build some bookshelves for my daughter’s room but the step-by-step directions I found say that I need a tool called a ‘router.’ This sounds serious. I don’t exactly know what that is and why I should use it. Can you help?”
TOM: It’s a great tool. It does help you do a number of woodworking projects. If you want to put an edge, like a rounded edge or an ogee …
LESLIE: All different kinds of edges.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. Or if you need to route a rabbet or a slot into, say, the upright pieces to build a bookshelf, you could do that. You can buy a router for all sorts of price levels. They start at around 50 bucks up into the hundreds. And it’s the kind of tool that once you start working with it, you’ll be so impressed, you’ll start thinking of projects that you could do that need a router to get them done.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s fun. And remember that the router is going to have a guide on it, so you really can’t go too far into the wood. You’ll end up with a really nice project and a finished edge and you truly will become addicted to your router.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show always on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you for spending this hour with us. We hope that we’ve helped you get your home in holiday shape for the guests that are about to arrive. If you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers, 24/7, at MoneyPit.com. And you can also post your questions to The Money Pit’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
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 2015 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.)