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Heating the Garage, Energy Efficient Heating Options, Cash for Clunkers Appliance Rebates and More

  • Transcript

    (NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
    (promo/theme song)

    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 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now because this is where work and fun meet, because we’re going to have fun helping you get the work done around your house.

    We’ve got a busy show planned. So you’ve been watching those heating bills as you pay them every month and you’re thinking, “Hmm. Is there any way I can cut back on this?” Well, there is. Coming up this hour, we’re going to tell you about a way to calculate the cost of heating or even cooling your home with a variety of different sources so you can figure out which way to go is the most economical and is going to put the most money back in your pocket.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And speaking of money back in your pocket, rebates are a great way for the retailers and manufacturers to lure you into a deal. But you have to be careful and be diligent so that you can actually claim your cash.
    So coming up a little later, we’re going to tell you about a one-stop, online resource that can help with all of those rebate questions you might have.
    TOM: And another way to save money is to improve the energy efficiency of your home and fiberglass doors can do just that. They look like wood but they’re up to five times more energy-efficient.
    This hour, we’re giving away a prize that can help you buy a fiberglass door. It’s a $50 Lowe’s gift card, courtesy of Therma-Tru. So give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get right to the phones.
    Leslie, who’s first?
    LESLIE: Rich in Rhode Island is dealing with a drippy faucet. It sounds like it’s driving you crazy. What’s going on?
    RICH: Well, the faucet in my bathroom, whenever I turn it off – it’s only the hot side – it drips. Whenever I turn it off, I have to turn it off a little bit extra but it’ll eventually, maybe an hour later, start dripping again. So when I go check it, I have to – it seems like it backs off.
    TOM: Yep.
    RICH: I have taken it apart; I have looked at everything and it just won’t stop dripping.
    TOM: Did you replace the valve seat?
    RICH: The valve seat was – I had – my brother-in-law is a plumber and he looked at everything.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
    RICH: He said everything seems OK but the thing is I live in a complex and I don’t know what kind of faucet it is to replace certain parts.
    TOM: The proof is in the pudding; it might look OK but it’s leaking. I would just replace the faucet. You know, I hate to say it but they’re somewhat disposable these days.
    RICH: Yeah.
    TOM: Plus, the new faucets are much more water-efficient. When you go to replace it, you want to look for one that’s marked WaterSense. That’s the EPA’s program; it’s similar to Energy Star but it’s only put on faucets that are – that qualify for WaterSense certification. So you’ll get a good-quality faucet that doesn’t use as much water and it’ll work better.
    RICH: OK. Alright. I appreciate it, man. You guys are awesome. Thank you.
    TOM: OK, Rich. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Susan in Texas has a question about insulation. How can we help you today?
    SUSAN: We are fixing to insulate our ceilings in our house. We had a new roof put on and it’s black and we have thought about that kind that you blow in and it expands.
    TOM: Yes. Mm-hmm.
    SUSAN: But I didn’t know what the cost would be as opposed to the regular fiberglass that you either blow in or just lay in. And also, what it would do to the shingles on the roof if you had that sun beating down on that black roof and that barrier, where the heat can’t get through to the attic at all.
    TOM: Well, I mean, here’s the thing: the insulation belongs between the heated space and the unheated space or the cooled space and the uncooled space, in your case, in the summer. So, spring insulation to the underside of the roof sheathing means that your attic now becomes conditioned and I don’t think that’s what you want to do.
    I think that the foam insulations are very good in new construction; I’m not so convinced that they work that well in retrofit. So what I would tell you to use is to use blown-in or batt fiberglass insulation and I would tell you to use 19 to 22 inches. And most importantly, make sure you add additional ventilation to the roof structure because most attics don’t have enough ventilation and you want to make sure that the space can really breathe. That’s going to give you comfort …
    SUSAN: OK, like wind turbines?
    TOM: (overlapping voices) No, not wind turbines. They look fancy …
    LESLIE: Like a continuous ridge vent.
    TOM: Yeah, a continuous ridge vent, like Leslie said. Much better.
    SUSAN: A continuous ridge vent.
    TOM: Yeah, it goes right down the peak of the roof.
    SUSAN: Oh.
    TOM: You won’t even see it when it’s installed and it lets lots and lots of hot, moist air out of the attic.
    SUSAN: OK. Well, I appreciate that, then.
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got James who’s got some unwanted visitors in the attic that won’t seem to go away. James, why are you making it so cozy for those squirrels?
    JAMES: I don’t know but they keep coming back. I’ve tried everything from live traps to snap traps. I don’t know what else to do because I cover up one hole and then they make a new hole. So, how can I get rid of them? (chuckles)
    TOM: Have you tried asking nicely?
    JAMES: I have tried that (Tom chuckles) and I’ve even tried screaming at them. A friend of mine once said – she told me I could use a shotgun on them but (Leslie and Tom chuckle) that’s more [inaudible at 0:05:28.2] than I want to use.
    TOM: Well, I tell you what. I have had good success with Havahart traps and – but I’ll give you a couple of tricks of the trade. If you use a Havahart trap, what you want to do is you want to put a piece of fruit towards like the back of the trapped area and the piece of fruit has to be hardwired into the cage. So I’ll take a stiff piece of wire and thread it through an apple and then tie it off to the side of the cage so that they can’t sort of bat it around.
    LESLIE: Take it and run.
    TOM: Take it and run, right. They’ve got to kind of pull it and work on it for a while and that leaves them in the cage long enough to hit the trap pedal and catch them.
    JAMES: Oh, OK.
    TOM: Do you have a Havahart trap?
    JAMES: Yeah, I have one of those. I kind of see them around it and they don’t do it.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah. No, you need a piece of fruit.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Try it that way and I think you will find that they won’t be quite as tricky.
    JAMES: OK. Cool.
    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now, you can be part of the fun and get your home improvement question answered, so pick up the phone and give us a call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
    Up next, does your garage feel like a walk-in freezer? Would you like to be able to spend more than a few minutes in there without bundling up? We’re going to have some options to help you heat your garage and make it a space you can truly use year-round, next.

    (theme song)
    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. And well, it’s tax time.
    TOM: It is.
    LESLIE: It is. And you might find yourself scrambling to make sure you’ve got all of those last-minute deductions in place. And here’s a big one that you can take advantage of for next year. Now, better than a deduction, you’re entitled to a $1,500 tax credit for improving the energy efficiency of your home, so this is really a win-win situation in more ways than one.
    And one option is to replace your wood front-entry door with a fiberglass door. Now, those fiberglass doors, they look exactly like wood but they insulate up to five times better than wood doors. So, really, it looks like wood and it insulates better; you really win here.
    And Benchmark by Therma-Tru is sold exclusively at Lowe’s and they come in a wide range of attractive styles and glass designs so you can really personalize the architecture and design of your home while also increasing your curb appeal.
    So, visit MyEnergyTax.com. All the information is there. And to help you along, we’re giving away a $50 gift card from Lowe’s, courtesy of Therma-Tru. So give us a call now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win this great prize and an answer to your home improvement question.
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Who’s next?
    LESLIE: Andrew in Texas needs some help repairing something in the bath. What can we do for you?
    ANDREW: Well, I have a question regarding cast-iron tubs that are enamel-finished – porcelain-finished, I guess.
    TOM: Right.
    ANDREW: I’ve got scratches in my tub that were created during construction and I want to see about getting those fixed.
    LESLIE: OK. You need to be careful. There are a lot of kits out there on the market and some of them are just, you know, a one-step that comes in almost like a nail polish applicator. But there’s actually a really good one and the website is Surface-Repair.com.
    LESLIE: And it’s a three-step kit and the first thing that you want to do is sort of gouge out the scratch or ding or dent to almost make it V-shaped, so that there’s more area for this paste to adhere to. And then you mix up the compound and you search on their site by – I think it’s by manufacturer and then you can sort of narrow down what color it is; this way, it’s specifically matching the enamel that’s already on your tub.
    And then once you let it dry, you do a little buffing and touch-up work to it and it really holds up very well; it blends in very well and it looks like the repair was never done.
    ANDREW: Oh, OK. And what’s the name of it again?
    LESLIE: It’s Surface-Repair.com. And you’ll see right on their website, I think they’ve got a bathtub and shower repair kit. You’ll see once you get online; you’ll find the kit.
    ANDREW: OK. That sounds great. I’ll try it.
    LESLIE: Alright.
    TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Charlene in Idaho has a question about heating. What can we do for you?
    CHARLENE: Yes. I heard it said by energy experts that if you’re not using a room, to shut off the registers. And I was told by another person that if I shut off the registers it would be detrimental to the actual heating unit, so I’m a little bit torn. Which is it?
    TOM: Here’s what you want to do, Charlene. You can shut off those vents in the rooms themselves but a more effective thing for you to do is on the duct that leads to that, there’s probably a damper built into the duct and it’s easier to turn the damper off, which will completely seal that off.
    CHARLENE: (overlapping voices) Right.
    TOM: It’s more effective than just the louvers that are on the heating register itself. No ill effects from shutting that off. Obviously, if it’s near plumbing, the room gets cold; you could have freezing. You know, I presume that you’re not going to do this in any room that has a thermostat in it that controls the function of the heater.
    But simply shutting them off at the dampers on the vents leading there is not going to have a terribly adverse effect on the heating system itself. The heat is only going to run as long as it needs to, to satisfy the thermostat and whether it distributes to all the rooms or not is immaterial.
    LESLIE: OK. So by shutting off the damper, it’s not just redirecting all of that forced air that would have come into that room into, say, the neighboring room.
    TOM: It’s going to basically take as much air as is supplied by the blower. Now, let me think about this. Could it maybe be a little bit faster? Probably not because it’s only going to run as long as it needs to, until the thermostat is satisfied and it’s going to shut off. If the air speed goes up, it doesn’t really matter.
    CHARLENE: The thermostat is in the hallway; so I noticed that when I did shut them off, the heater didn’t go on as much because the rooms that we were heating stayed warmer.
    TOM: Right. And it probably heated up more quickly, too.
    CHARLENE: Yeah. OK. Well, thank you very, very much. I sure appreciate that.
    TOM: There you go, Charlene. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Tony in New York is dealing with a broken sewer pipe. This sounds like a stinky, messy disaster. What’s going on?
    TONY: Hi. My daughter has a broken sewer pipe that goes to the …
    LESLIE: So it’s her stinky disaster.
    TONY: Yes, that goes out to the main; you know, the main sewer line that the city has. She had a company come down. They gave her two options: one is to dig it up and repair it and the second option was called Nu Flow, where they send a balloon in and they expand it and it’s an epoxy seal. Have you heard of it? Is it any good?
    TOM: Yes. Yes, we have heard of it. Not that particular brand but this technique is one that is tried and true and it works very well. I know a lot of the drain-cleaning companies do it as well. Basically, they take what’s like a fiberglass sock, sort of inside-out, and they run it inside the broken line and then it’s expanded and there’s like a fiberglass kind of material that lines the inside of pipe. It’s kind of like creating a pipe inside of a pipe.
    TONY: Right.
    TOM: And after it’s hardened, that now becomes the new pipe and that’s what the waste flows through, Tony. So, it is a system and usually you’re going to use this if it’s too hard to dig the pipe up. If the pipe is going under sidewalks and buildings or pools or whatever …
    TONY: It’s under the sidewalk. (chuckles)
    TOM: Well – but listen. I’m going to tell you, it’s a lot more expensive than digging it up so you may want to make sure you do a cost analysis on this to figure out if repairing the sidewalk is going to cost less than putting this system in.
    Now I know that, for example, in my house, we had to tear up a sidewalk to replace a main water line and a waste pipe and we were able to literally cut a section out of the sidewalk, lift it, do the repair, drop the section back in and it’s still there today, like some 10 years later.
    TONY: Right.
    TOM: So you – just because it goes under a sidewalk doesn’t mean you have to use this technique. I do know it’s a lot more expensive than the digging it up by itself, so just make sure you check out the cost benefit analysis on this.
    TONY: Right. I just wanted to make sure that it does work.
    TOM: Yeah. It’s a viable system; been used for a number of years now. We’ve covered it for
    probably four or five years and it does work.
    TONY: Right, right.
    TOM: Again, I’m not familiar with that trade name but the system, the concept, is solid.
    TONY: Thank you for the information.
    TOM: You’re welcome, Tony. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Pat in South Carolina has a laminate flooring question. What can we do for you today?
    PAT: Well, I have a sunroom with indoor/outdoor carpeting and I’d like to put a laminate flooring over it without pulling up the carpet, because it’s been glued down.
    TOM: OK.
    PAT: Is that possible?
    TOM: Yeah. I don’t see why you couldn’t. You’re going to find that the floor is that much higher; that much thicker. So as long as it doesn’t cause any problem with door jambs and that sort of thing, I don’t see why you couldn’t go on top of that. You know, if you got that old carpet up and could just get enough of the glue up so that it’s relatively …
    LESLIE: Like the big chunks of it.
    TOM: Yeah, so it’s relatively flat. I’d prefer that you do it that way but if push comes to shove, you can definitely just go right on top of it.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Especially with the laminate flooring, Pat. There are several different types of underlayments; it’s generally like a foam sheeting that you put down and then the laminate goes over it. So if you can get up the big chunks of carpet or big pieces of glue where you might end up with a severe bump, the foam underlayment will really even everything out and then the laminate floats over it. You’d be better off to get it up but if you can’t, no worries.
    PAT: Well, is there an easy way to get it up if it’s been glued down?
    TOM: Well, you want to grab a corner of it and start pulling it up.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) And tug. (Leslie and Pat chuckle)
    TOM: And then you’re going to use a big scraper and basically scrape over every inch of that floor and scrape up some of the glue. You know, it’s a tough job; it’s laborious but it’s not impossible. And I’d much rather see you put the laminate floor down on top of the subfloor than on top of the carpet.
    PAT: Okie-doke. Well, thank you so much.
    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Adam in Alabama is having some electrical issues at his money pit. Tell us about the problem.
    ADAM: Well, basically, every time my air conditioner kicks on, all the lights in the house dim.
    TOM: Hmm. OK. Central air conditioner?
    ADAM: Yes, it is.
    TOM: Hmm. Well, when an air conditioning compressor comes on, there’s a voltage draw, OK? And what happens is you have a short-term voltage loss and that can reflect on the lights although, frankly, it usually doesn’t.
    LESLIE: Well, because usually it’s in a separate circuit all its own that is made to maintain.
    TOM: Well, yeah. But if his entire panel is like weaning – I wonder if there’s an issue with the quality of the power coming into the house, because this frequently happens like when you have a room air conditioner on the same circuit with your lights or sometimes you’ll see it in the kitchen.
    LESLIE: Refrigerator.
    TOM: Yeah, when the refrigerator kicks on in the kitchen, the lights will dim. But if the whole house is dimming, that’s not right and that, to me, sounds like there may be a problem with the power; the quality of the power coming in. You’re not getting the full 220 volts that you expect.
    So I would contact your power company and have them check the line coming into the house. See if you’re having any issues with brownouts because that’s …
    LESLIE: Like the main line coming to the service panel?
    TOM: Yeah. It sounds like there’s a brownout in this area that’s causing this issue. It sometimes can be caused by a bad transformer on the pole, too.
    ADAM: Oh, OK. Alright.
    TOM: But that’s why it’s happening but it shouldn’t be happening on a dedicated circuit.
    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
    Now, one of the most utilitarian rooms in the house – is that a word? I guess it is –
    LESLIE: It sure is.
    TOM: – is the garage. We spend a lot of time in the garage; we store a lot of stuff in the garage. But the problem with the garage is if you live in a four-season climate, you can only use that garage, realistically, for maybe two-and-a-half to three seasons; it’s just too darn cold to be out there all winter long.
    But there is a solution: you can add garage heat. There are several different types. You can go with forced-air garage heaters and they deliver instant heat; kind of like a conventional furnace. Then you have infrared garage heaters which radiate down rather than using the conventional blower fan. And finally, you can just go with a portable electric heater. They require very little maintenance, so it’s not hard to create that year-round space if you insulate it.
    And the second thing you need to do, or maybe even before adding the heater, is add some insulation. Remember, if those walls are between you and the outside – in other words, it’s not the wall that connects the garage with the house – it’s not insulated. So, add a little insulation, install a nice heating system and that will become a year-round workspace for you.
    LESLIE: Alright. Up next, you know, this time of year, we’re certainly all taking advantage of those tax credits that are available. And also, there are a lot of rebates that we can all get; whether it’s from a manufacturer or from our local utility companies. But the trick with those rebates is you have to make sure that everything is crossed and dotted and in the right order to actually make sure that you get those rebates back.
    So, when we return, we’re going to give you some advice on how to take the hassle out of that entire rebate process.

    (theme song)
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your toolbox, visit StanleyTools.com.
    TOM: 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: And it’s never been a better time to buy some new, energy-efficient products for your house with all the tax credits that are out there including perhaps buying some new appliances, because there are all kinds of rebates out there that are available, including a Cash For Clunkers program for your old and outdated appliances.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s right. But in order to take advantage of those rebates, you really have to do a lot of homework and quite a bit of legwork as well. But the good news is, there is now one-stop shopping for rebates, where you can find all of the information you need, saving you both time and a heck of a lot of stress.
    So here to tell us about it is Lee Guthman. He’s the founder and CEO of ApplianceRebate.com.
    Welcome, Lee.
    LEE: Hi. Great to be here.
    TOM: And Lee, having looked into the appliance rebate program in a lot of detail, I’d add one more qualification to what you need to be, to collect that rebate: a certified accountant (Leslie chuckles), because it’s pretty complicated. And I like what you guys are doing on your site because you make it pretty easy to figure out what the states offer.
    You know, let’s just kind of start at the beginning. Tell us about the appliance rebate program and explain why the opportunity varies so much from state to state.
    LEE: Sure. The federal government, back early in 2009, allocated approximately $300 million to be shared among different states and territories, with rebates ranging from different amounts from state to state – could be $50, could be $250 – for the purchase of energy-efficient appliances. The program was initially launched to help stimulate the economy, in addition to also helping consumers obtain energy-efficient appliances and save some money.
    And so, with the program, each state was allocated a certain amount of money and it is left up to each state to allocate that money to a program, as they see fit.
    TOM: So you have $300 million, which is essentially a rounding error on any day in Washington, D.C. (Leslie chuckles) And then that’s divided up using some formula, on a state-by-state basis. And then the states have to divide it up again and figure out which appliances they’re going to cover.
    Doesn’t that seem to be extraordinarily and unnecessarily complicated or is that just government at its best? (Leslie chuckles)
    LEE: You know, we took a look at it and we’re confused by all the details around it and really did a lot of investigating into it to see if there was a way to put some method around the madness to help it – easier for a consumer to understand what it is that they would be due by living in a certain state.
    TOM: Yeah. I think you’ve done a pretty good job on your website. I was playing with it before; I put in my zip code and then I sort of clicked through the different appliances. And I was surprised that – like in my state of New Jersey, nothing available on refrigerators.
    LESLIE: No refrigerators. Whereas I, in New York, had a ton of refrigerators.
    TOM: Exactly. So it really does vary by state. And I guess the other problem here is that it’s a moving target, because these states are bringing on appliances all the time, aren’t they?
    LEE: Right. I think you’re exactly right. And what you’ve seen on the website is that, in addition to the significant amount of dollars that may be out there for an individual, by certain state, for an appliance, there’s also a tremendous amount of savings that can be generated from their local utility and municipality, which is something that we found really pretty unique in that, really, consumers didn’t even know about it.
    TOM: Right. And so, the rebates, though – I think the other thing that’s interesting to note – and certainly the part that comes from the utility company is one – these checks actually can come from several different sources, huh?
    LEE: You’ve got that right. So, in addition to the ones that most consumers know about, from a manufacturer or the retailer, there’s the state clunker program that’s going to be coming up.
    But what we found is that there’s significant savings from the local at their zip code levels – at the utility and municipality level. So, from electric company and gas companies, both for traditional rebate programs as well as recycling programs, where the local utility or municipality will actually pick up your appliance and pay you.
    TOM: So you’ve got the federal rebate, you’ve got the state rebate, you’ve got the utility company rebate and probably a manufacturer rebate. That’s four right there.
    LEE: Exactly. And then, presumably, you can even get a retailer rebate and stack it up and you have five.
    LESLIE: Well, I mean, how much of a rebate are we talking about? Is this a lot of money here? Is it going to cover the cost of the new appliance or are we looking at 50 percent or does it really just vary and is so arbitrary?
    LEE: It really varies. Certain states are more progressive than others in terms of offering these rebates at the utility and municipality level. For example, one of the interesting ones that we found is that if you live in Florida – in a Fort Pierce-covered zip code – you can actually save $175 from the utility company by buying an energy-efficient refrigerator. So you can save $175 there.
    There’s going to be a Florida state rebate program which is going to start around Earth Day. And then there are also manufacturer rebates to add onto that. So you’re going to be talking about saving $200, $300, $400 off the cost of a refrigerator by just doing a little bit of research.
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Wow.
    TOM: We’re talking to Lee Guthman – he’s the co-founder and CEO of ApplianceRebate.com – about the appliance – the Cash For Clunkers appliance program. Varies a heck of a lot by state.
    You mentioned Fort Pierce, Florida, being a particularly good area. Where are the clunker states? Where is it really, really difficult to get any money out of this program?
    LEE: You know, it really depends. Some of the states that it could be difficult to get the money out of – for example, in Alaska, for citizens that may be living there, the requirements living in Alaska, the citizen would have to actually be a disabled citizen in order to qualify for the clunker rebate program versus some other states. And most of the other states are more progressive; they’ve been offering it at all the different levels for clothes washers and dishwashers and the like.

    So, it really varies state by state and the amounts vary as well. In some cases, they’re as low as 25 and in some cases, they’re as high as 200. So, again, you just really need to check kind of state by state to see what you’re eligible for.
    LESLIE: Well, Lee, I mean, you’ve mentioned that in some cases we’re talking about five potential rebates. That seems like a lot of paperwork to fill out; a lot of forms to copy and receipts to copy and stickers. How do I know what I need to include and what I need to fill out and what the process is to get all of those rebates?
    LEE: Sure. And that’s exactly one of the problems that we found when we were looking at all this; is how do we help a consumer put all this information together? And so, in addition to actually finding what the rebates are at a dollar amount, we also aggregate all of the forms. So any of the rebates that are in our system, we actually have the corresponding form.
    And so, for example, if there’s a – if someone lives in Fort Pierce, Florida and there’s a form for a utility company and the manufacturer and the state clunker program, we would have all three of those forms. And when someone searches for an eligible appliance, if that appliance is eligible for those three, one screen pops up. You type your information into one box and then you press the print button and all of the forms come out prepopulated with all the relevant information.
    LESLIE: Oh, that’s great.
    TOM: Yeah, it’s a [inaudible at 0:27:01.8].
    LEE: (overlapping voices) There’s going to be information that we don’t know about you, like your utility number or a specific SKU number for an appliance that you may buy, so we include an instruction page on the front of these so as to tell you exactly what you need to do to finish the application process.
    TOM: Well, I’ve got to tell you, Lee, you guys have taken a very complicated process and made it a heck of a lot easier. So, well done. The website is ApplianceRebate.com. Go there, check it out; find out what’s available in your state.

    And I’ve got to tell you, as I’ve said before, with all of these tax credit and rebate programs, do it now because the gravy train is going to be (Leslie chuckles) heading out of the station. And if this is anything like the other Cash For Clunker program that we saw with cars, it’s going to run out of money faster than a car crusher can crush a clunker of a car.
    So, get on it, get it done, get your new appliances, get your new windows, your doors; anything that qualifies for the tax credit. Do it now; do it this year before the money runs out.
    Lee, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Again, great job.
    LEE: Thank you.
    LESLIE: Alright. Up next, you know, is the high cost of heating your home making you think about changing some things around your money pit? Well, when we come back, we’re going to tell you how you can calculate those savings before you actually do the work, to figure out what you can do to save the most money.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bondera TileMatSet, the fast, easy way to add the style and value of tile to your home. For more information, visit BonderaTileMatSet.com.
    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: And it’s tax time and that may have many of you scrambling to find some last-minute deductions. Here’s a big one that you can take advantage of for next year. Better than a deduction, you are entitled to a $1,500 tax credit for improving the energy efficiency of your home.
    One option is to replace your front, wood entry door with a fiberglass door. They look great; they look just like wood but they insulate up to five times better than wood. Benchmark by Therma-Tru is one way to do that. They are sold exclusively at Lowe’s. They come in a wide range of attractive styles and glass designs to personalize your home and increase curb appeal. We’re going to help you do that by giving away a $50 gift card, courtesy of Therma-Tru, to help you buy that beautiful, new Benchmark door.
    If you’d like to learn more about how to save energy and qualify for tax credits by installing a new entry door, you can check out this website – MyEnergyTax.com – for more information. That’s MyEnergyTax.com.
    LESLIE: Alright. And since we’re on the subject of energy efficiency, have you ever wondered if switching from gas to oil would actually make a difference in the cost of heating your home? And how would you even begin to figure out such a thing?
    Well, to help you along, there’s actually a great website that has an excellent selection of energy calculators. So, this way, you can compare cost savings, estimate insulation savings and even figure out how much money you can save by simply adding a setback thermostat.
    If you want to check this out – and I really think that everybody should, just so you can get an idea of what you can save and what type of work you should do around your house – check out WarmAir.net and you’ll get all the answers you need.
    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us right now for the answer to your next home improvement project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Brian in South Dakota is dealing with a very noisy bathroom. Tell us about the problem.
    BRIAN: Yes. We have three bathrooms in our 1997 home: two on the main level; one in the basement. When you flush the toilet of the master bathroom on the main level, it makes a horrific noise throughout the entire home. What would cause that?
    TOM: Hmm. Water hammer. That plus the fact that the – there’s nothing better than plumbing pipes to transmit sound. Do you hear it when the water runs down the pipes or do you hear it when the toilet fills?
    BRIAN: Hmm. I guess probably when it runs down the pipes.
    TOM: Yeah. Not that unusual, Brian.
    BRIAN: Really?
    TOM: Yeah. I mean what happens is you have PVC pipes in the walls and – I love when like the powder room backs up against the dining room, so you get to listen to this during dinner (Leslie chuckles), you know?
    LESLIE: Right during your holiday meal. Bam-bam-bam-bam-bam.
    TOM: Yeah. Not that unusual, though. The walls do transmit the sound quite easily. And the only thing that you can do is you could consider blowing insulation into the walls that contain the plumbing pipes; that might quiet it down a bit.
    BRIAN: OK. I’ll try that. Thank you.
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright. Well, glad to give you that tip. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
    LESLIE: Randy in North Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?
    RANDY: I’ve got some insulation. It was, I think, only 39-and-a-half inches wide and it was about – and the strips put under my house.
    TOM: OK.
    RANDY: And my nephew put it up but he put the paper – it’s got paper on one side and it’s facing downward into the floor. A friend of mine told me that was backwards; he said that wouldn’t serve the purpose like that.
    TOM: Yeah. Well, you’ve got a smart friend there; that is upside down. You essentially put the vapor barrier upside down. The vapor barrier – the rule of thumb, Randy, is that the vapor barrier always go – points towards the living space or the heated space. So that should have been up.
    RANDY: OK. Because I’ve got my furnace under the house; you know, the furnace is under the house, too.
    TOM: Well – but the crawlspace is not heated so, again …
    RANDY: Right, right. Exactly, exactly.
    TOM: (chuckling) I understand the heater is in the crawlspace but that’s not the heated space. The heated space is upstairs; hence, the vapor barrier should have been up against the underside of the floor.
    Now, I’ve got a trick of the trade for you, though. And that is that you can go down the crawlspace and you can cut that vapor barrier about every six inches; kind of slice it. That will allow some air to breathe through there and help it dry out. The problem is you can trap moisture in there, so you need to slice it so it has some ventilation.
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
    Up next, the step-by-step for replacing tiles in your bathroom or kitchen, so stick around.

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    TOM: 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: And spring is just around the corner. If you’re stumped about the outside projects that you need to do around your money pit, simply visit MoneyPit.com for project ideas, advice and info. Go to Home Spaces, then Landscaping for a whole new slew of spring ideas for your house.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if your idea isn’t there or the idea you’re looking for isn’t there, e-mail us your question; we’ll be happy to help you with that. And I’ve got one here from Maria in New Jersey who writes: “What is the best and cheapest way to change tiles in the bathroom? The tiles are on the floor and on the wall in the shower area.”
    TOM: Hmm. Well, on the floor, usually old houses with tiles – we’re talking about the mosaics or something like that – and you can actually, Maria, put a second layer of tile over that.
    Now, as long as the bathroom floor is solid – I mean, really solid and most of those old floors are – you can go ahead and add a second layer of tile. But caution: the wider the tile, the more solid the floor. Just because it held the little mosaics doesn’t mean it’s now going to hold 18×18-inch tile, because I’ve got news for you: they don’t bend; they break.
    LESLIE: Yeah. Or crack.
    TOM: And if they’re not smooth and solid and supported across the whole underside, they will crack. So as long as you have a solid base, you can go ahead and put a second coat – a second layer of tile on there.

    As far as the walls, though, that’s a little more complicated.
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, with the walls, I would not recommend painting, especially in a shower area. I mean there are kits available and there are step-by-step details available online that tell you how to painstakingly clean each tile and what step-by-step and what types of paints to use to do so. But in such a high-water area, I feel like whatever you use is just not going to stand up to it.
    So if there’s a way that you can make those tiles work for you, by either changing your accessories – the shower curtain, the towels; you know, maybe you have a standing butler-type of shelving system; maybe change that out or add some nice accessories or some sea shells to make that work for you, to bring those tiles into it – I would do that rather than painting something. Oh and if you can, take them down and put up some new ones; it’s up to you there.
    Alright. Next, we’ve got an e-mail from Dee in California who writes: “I have a 24-year-old, one-story house. A few months ago, I noticed some cracks all over the place. The bedroom door is hard to close and I’m noticing cracks on my marble floors. What do I do?”
    TOM: Well, here’s the question, Dee: were the cracks always there and you didn’t notice them or are they new cracks? If you suspect that it’s an old house with lots of cracks – because many old homes do – then, not so much to worry about and doors frequently need to be adjusted over the years.
    However, if you think this is a new set of cracks, that could be a potential problem. I would get a structural engineer or perhaps an independent professional home inspector to take a look at that and determine if they are active or not. Then they’ll be able to give you some more tips on what to do about it.
    LESLIE: Alright. I hope that helps, Dee, and good luck with that project.
    TOM: Well, is that collection of plates or photos that you’ve got around your house, collecting a lot of dust? Why not let your favorite items see the light of day? A great idea for a unique way of displaying your collections comes to you right now, courtesy of Leslie’s Last Word.
    LESLIE: That’s right. Whether you want to hang your family photos or if you’ve got a collection of plates and platters, you can give them more dimension by surrounding them with an ornate frame. All you want to do is hang a backless and glass-free frame that’s larger than the item that you want to display and then hang up your plate and then put the frame around it.
    And what you can do that’s really cool is you can get a whole bunch of really ornate frames – go to a flea market; go to a thrift store; go to a framing shop and see what they’ve got on sale or they’re getting rid of that didn’t sell or was returned or is damaged – and take all those frames and spray paint them the same color, like a super-glossy purple or something really fun and outrageous or super-glossy white to keep it traditional.
    And it doesn’t even have to be an ornate frame; it can just be a simple, detailed molding. All you want to add is this interesting oomph of architectural detail and then suddenly your collection has a beautiful frame around it. Everything looks lovely; it looks like it’s there on purpose and it just gives it something special and it didn’t cost you a lot and it didn’t take a long time. So get to displaying those things that you love and enjoy them, for once.
    TOM: Great tip.
    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week, wet basements cause millions of dollars in damage every year. Proper drainage is the key but another way to make sure your below-grade rooms stay dry is with a sump pump. We’re going to have some tips on how they work and determine whether you need one to keep your space dry, next week on the program.
    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 2010 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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