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    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: Welcome to the program. We are here to help you tackle your home improvement projects, solve those do-it-yourself dilemmas. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or a direct-it-yourselfer – one that likes to hire out the job -we want to make sure you don’t become a do-it-to-yourselfer and make some mistakes along the way. You can help yourself, first, by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour, it’s that time of the year again. You’ve got every intention of giving the perfect gifts to loved ones, bosses and friends, only to draw a blank once you step foot in the store or pull up that website.

    LESLIE: Well, listen up and breathe easy because you won’t be giving that same old tie or scarf this year. On today’s special edition of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, we’re talking home improvement holiday gifts. We’ve got innovative and useful suggestions, from our 2014 Money Pit Holiday Gift Guide, for every person in your life, from the home improvement pro to that gadget lover to the not-so-handy type who’d rather leave the heavy lifting to somebody else. Maybe that’s you. We’ll be telling you all about the best of them, all hour.

    TOM: And speaking of heavy lifting, whether you’ve hung up those outdoor lights or plan to do it soon, are you already feeling a bit Grinch-y at the thought of December’s electric bill? It can be quite a surprise for those that like to really spruce it up for the holidays. But you can keep those costs down, even after all your lights and decorations go up. We’re going to tell you exactly how to do that, just ahead.

    LESLIE: And white Christmases are nice but if you’re anything like us, you’re already dreaming of a green springtime. So to get there, you’re going to need to prep your lawn and garden now to keep it alive through the cold and snow. And we’ll tell you how.

    TOM: And if happiness and health are at the top of your wish list, listen up. We’ve got the most common causes of seasonal injuries and how to keep them from happening in your home. And some of these might surprise you.

    LESLIE: And what’s a holiday gift-guide show without some extra giving? Two – count them – two callers we talk to on the air this hour are going to walk away with prizes from our holiday gift guide. A set of two Leviton USB Charger Receptacles go home with one caller. They’re going to let you spend less time charging your devices and more time enjoying them.

    TOM: And a second caller is going to win big with the Delta Temp2O Hand Shower. The Delta Temp2O installs easily in your shower and gives you the water temperature before you step in, which is very cool because you’ll never let scalding hot or freezing cold water shock you again.

    So call us, right now, with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Dina in Iowa is on the line with a painting question. How can we help you today?

    DINA: I have this brown paneling and it goes all the way from the floor to the ceiling in every room. And I wondered if I can paint over this or wallpaper – or what is your suggestion?

    TOM: Wow. That’s a – what’s that, 1970s?

    DINA: Yeah. Yep.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, I kind of remember that growing up. We had those – that error in my house. And it’s always better to remove it but you can paint it.

    What you want to do, Dina, is you want to prime it. So, the first thing you would do is you would clean it, you would lightly sand it. And because there’s so much of it, I would – when I go the paint store, I would get a sanding extension. It’s on a pole. It’s like a pole with an indexing head at the bottom – at the end of it, I should say. And you can run this pole over the surface and sand it, rough it up a little bit.

    And then you’re going to want to prime it. And I would use a good-quality, oil-based primer. It’ll go on nice and thick. It’ll give you a good, solid surface on which to add the wall paint. And then you can use latex wall paint on top of that. And I think it’ll come out nice and it’ll go on easy if you do those steps in that order. Because once you prime it, you get a very nice, even surface. It fills in any of the imperfections in the surface and it will make sure that that topcoat can be accepted properly

    DINA: What about those grooves?

    TOM: You’re always going to have those grooves. You can’t do anything about it unless you want to take the paneling down which, by the way, could be an option. Because sometimes, when they put the paneling up, they just nailed it with these types of small, very thin ring nails. You could experiment with the possibility of taking that paneling off the walls. And you may find that underneath it is drywall.

    Now, generally, you have to do a lot of spackling, sometimes retaping and that kind of thing. But it is possible that underneath that paneling are some decent, typical drywall-covered walls.

    DINA: OK. It sounds like a Saturday job.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, at least, if you’ve got that much paneling. It might be a couple of Saturdays’ jobs. A lot of Saturdays.

    DINA: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright, Dina. Good luck with that project. Thank you so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    RICH: Yes, I was – my question is concerning ceramic-valve cartridges and faucets. Since they theoretically resurface themselves during each operation, I’m wondering if it would be prudent to open the valve its full radius and then back down to your desired flow, in order to ensure proper, even resurfacing.

    TOM: I don’t think so. So, just to back up, for those that are unfamiliar with this, most of the good-quality faucets today have ceramic valves, which basically are two ceramic discs that rub against each other. They’re very finely polished. In fact, it’s interesting that if you touch them together when the valve is all apart, which most of us will never see – but because I’m kind of a geek, I’ve been to these factories. If you touch these two sides of the ceramic valve together, you almost can’t pull it apart because of the surface tension. It’s almost like magnetic.

    And as Rich -as you said, the more you use these, the more worn they get. But they don’t – they actually get tighter. They don’t really wear out, so I wouldn’t worry too much about this. I think they’re far tougher than you give them credit for and I wouldn’t worry about the evenness of the wear. I just think it’s a real terrific technology that’s probably the best we’ve ever had.

    RICH: OK. Well, I kind of expected that but I would – yeah, my theory, my mind works in mysterious ways.

    TOM: Apparently. Well, put your mind at ease, Rich. There’s going to be no issues with that. I’m sure there are other projects that you can put your attention to now. 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. Please call us with your home repair or your home improvement question, because we’ve got the answers. We’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, if your holiday light display is the envy of your neighbors, there’s a good chance your electric bill won’t be. Stop paying big for that holiday spirit. We’ll tell you what you need to know, next.

    ANNOUNCER: If you could have cleaners that were safe, green and actually work, wouldn’t it be great to save money with them, too? Shaklee’s concentrated products save you money, ounce for ounce. Shop Shaklee Get Clean products today at GreenMyMoneyPit.com. That’s GreenMyMoneyPit.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Well, if you’re a little stressed about gift-giving this season, you’ve come to the right place. You’re listening to the very special Gift-Giving Edition of The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We’ve handpicked the hottest, newest products of our 2014 Money Pit Holiday Gift Guide. And we’re telling you about some of the best ones this hour.

    TOM: And these aren’t just gift ideas for the do-it-yourself types. We’ve got something for everyone, whether you’re a seasoned project pro or a college student or a recent grad, basically every skill level and age in between.

    LESLIE: And in keeping with the holiday spirit, we’re giving away not one but two great items from the Holiday Gift Guide to callers we talk to this hour.

    TOM: That’s right. One caller is going to get the luxury of replacing two standard outlets with the Leviton USB Charger Outlets. These are very cool because they feature two USB ports in addition to two 15-amp outlets, which basically lets you charge multiple devices simultaneously. Learn more at Leviton.com/USB.

    LESLIE: And another caller will never step into a too hot or too cold shower again. The new Delta Temp2O fixtures are easy-to-install showerheads and hand showers that have an LED display of the temperature of the water before you step in.

    TOM: The Delta Temp2O line is available exclusively at The Home Depot but goes home with one caller we talk to on the air this hour. So give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question. We’re standing by. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Mary in Virginia is dealing with some tricky wood flooring. Tell us what’s going on.

    MARY: Well, in our bedroom, there’s a hump in the floor – I mean in the flooring. The house has all wood floors – no carpet or anything – and we don’t know what’s wrong with it. When we bought the house, a structural engineer looked at it and supposedly fixed it but he didn’t fix it. Supposedly, he put a crossbeam.

    And then, when you go downstairs and look up at the basement ceiling – which is the floor of the upper bedroom, right? – you can see the cross piece but the hump is still there. So, we’ve had a couple people look at it. One flooring company told us they thought the floor had warped or something and we’d need new floors but we don’t know what it is.

    TOM: So, the question is: is the deflection or the warping, is that in the floor joists or is that in the flooring material itself? What kind of flooring material do you have now? Let’s start with that.

    MARY: It’s wood flooring.

    TOM: Is it carpet? Hardwood? What is it?

    MARY: No, no, no. It’s hardwood floors. No carpet.

    TOM: It’s hardwood floor, OK. The work that the – the work that this engineer did, that was addressing the floor joists, I imagine, correct?

    MARY: Well, I don’t know. Supposedly, supposedly. I’m not sure what happened. This was when we bought the house and supposedly, this fixed it.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Alright.

    MARY: But to me, it doesn’t look like it’s been fixed, because there’s still the hump there.

    TOM: The hump is still there, yeah.

    Well, we’ve got to figure out what’s causing that hump. And it’s not unusual for a floor beam, for example, to warp or twist and press up and cause a floor to deform. But unfortunately, I have no way of diagnosing this from this view, over the radio.

    LESLIE: But you can actually take some pictures and post them on our website.

    TOM: Yeah, that’d be a great idea. If you could take some photos and post in the Community section of MoneyPit.com – now, I’d ask you to take some photos from the top down and also from the basement up so we can have a look at it. We might be able to give you some further advice.

    But if it is a floor joist that happened to buckle, there’s a way to lower that down and it’s a repair that we used to do all the time when – and new construction was really when that happens most. How old is this house, by the way?

    MARY: I think it was built in ’68.

    TOM: Sixty-eight? OK. Well, it’s a little old for this particular scenario to happen. But if it is a joist that’s twisted, typically what you do is you actually cut the joist. And you can put pressure on from above and get it to sort of lay down a bit. And then you reinforce it by putting two new joists on either side of it and create a new beam.

    MARY: So you don’t need to replace the whole floor, like this flooring company is telling us?

    TOM: If the floor structure is not the – is the problem, replacing the floor is not going to change that, OK? But I mean if – listen, if it’s not really, really bad, I wouldn’t be too concerned about it with a house that’s built in 1968. Why don’t you just chalk it up to charm?

    MARY: Yeah. But we’re trying to sell it in the spring and these days, everything has to be pretty much turnkey-perfect, you know?

    TOM: OK, look. Here’s what you should do. Listen, if you’re getting ready to put the house on the market, go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors at ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.org. Using their zip-code locator, find an ASHI-certified home inspector in your area. Because of the market and because of the issues that you’re concerned about, have your home inspected by a professional home inspector.

    You’re doing this for a couple of reasons. First of all, the inspector is an independent expert that should be able to diagnose this floor problem for you and tell you whether it’s something to be concerned about or not. Secondly, the inspector will be able to identify other potential issues that could come up in the house sale and give you the opportunity to fix them or not without a buyer looking over your shoulder.

    So if the goal here is to get the house ready for sale, let’s not speculate on what’s going on. Let’s get a trained set of eyes in there that is – and somebody who’s not working for a contractor trying to sell you flooring or God-knows-what-else. And let them look at the house and figure out what’s going on. And this way, you’ll know and you’ll have the time to do the job right, OK?

    So, again, the website is ASHI.org – A-S-H-I.o-r-g.

    MARY: OK. Thank you.

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

    Well, if you want the brightest holiday decorations on the block without blowing your budget on your electric bill, you have to choose the right lights. And you can save a bundle these days by using LED and fiber-optic lights. The variety, the versatility of these products are really better than they’ve ever been.

    LESLIE: Yeah. LEDs have come a long way since their early, somewhat dim days. LEDs convert energy into light rather than heat. And each light only uses .04 watts for up to 90-percent efficiency over incandescent lighting. Now, LEDs also contain no mercury and they can burn for more than 50,000 hours.

    TOM: Now, another energy-saving option is to basically go with fiber optics. Now, you’ve probably seen these. They’re really, really pretty and the way it works is you have a single bulb and it sends the lights through tiny fibers, like hundreds or thousands of them. And the result is a very cool-to-the-touch lighting display.

    LESLIE: If you want some more tips on using these energy-efficient lights and a safety checklist, just search “energy-efficient LED holiday lighting.”

    TOM: Or give us a call with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jerry in Washington is on the line with an insulation question. How can we help you today?

    JERRY: I need to find out if I can insulate my attic crawlspace or not.

    TOM: OK.

    JERRY: What I have – it’s a house built in 1960 and it’s a very low-pitch roof. The center of the roof has only got about 18 inches of space above the ceiling joist, to the peak of the roof. And right now, it’s got the under-eave vents. And I want to find out, can I blow in insulation, basically covering all those under-eave vents up, and then add more vents over the top of the insulation to compensate?

    TOM: Well, if you’ve only got 18 inches in the high point of that ceiling – is that what you’re telling me?

    JERRY: Correct.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, you can only – you don’t want to cover the vents. Are the vents at the overhang or the soffits?

    JERRY: Right.

    TOM: Yeah. You need both sets of vents: you need vents at the soffit and vent at the ridge. Because what happens is air will enter in at the soffit, Jerry, go up under the roof sheathing and exit at the ridge, so you can’t block it.

    JERRY: Right.

    TOM: So all you should really do is to get as much insulation into those floor joists as possible without blocking the soffit vents. And then you might want to add a ridge vent down the peak of the roof, which you can easily do from the outside, to provide that exhaust venting.

    Unfortunately, when you have a really low-sloped roof like that, it’s very difficult to get as much insulation there as you might want to get.

    JERRY: Yeah. That’s what I was afraid of. I was hoping to be able to go all the way to the edge of the side of the house.

    TOM: Well, the thing is if you put all that insulation in there, it’s going to be so damp and moist it’s just not going to insulate. You’ve got to have the ventilation to dry it out, to keep it working properly.

    JERRY: Well, you answered my question.

    TOM: Alright.

    JERRY: It wasn’t exactly what I hoped for an answer but …

    TOM: Not the answer you wanted but it is the right answer. So, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Lawrence in Wisconsin on the line who’s dealing with a porch post that’s rotting. Tell us what’s going on.

    LAWRENCE: It’s an outdoor porch on the front of the house. And where that post and the floor come together there, the corners of the post – about an inch in on each corner – are rotting away. And I was wondering if there was a way I can fix that or does that entire post have to come out?

    TOM: So, is it just the base of the post, because the moisture collects there?

    LAWRENCE: Yes.

    TOM: Can you sort of dig out the rotted area? Because if it’s just a small area like that, you can dig it out and fill it back in with a product like an Elmer’s Wood Filler, which will take shape and you can kind of work it like wood after it dries. So you don’t necessarily have to tear it out.

    Now, the other little trick of the trade for dealing with those porch-column bottoms – is it a square column?

    LAWRENCE: Yes.

    TOM: So, what you could do is you could add another piece of trim on the outside of that on all four sides and put a skirting on the bottom of the column. And that’ll – if you do it well, it looks like it was always designed to be that way. Does that make sense?

    LAWRENCE: Yeah, the – when the builders built, they put a little piece of wood all the way around it.

    TOM: Yeah, like a piece of trim? So you put a bigger piece of wood – like a taller piece of wood – all the way around it. If it’s just a small quarter round or something like that, you could put a 3-inch or even a 6-inch skirting around the bottom of that on all four sides and you’ll completely cover up the rotted area.

    LAWRENCE: OK. I’ll give that a try.

    TOM: A lot easier than replacing the post, right?

    LAWRENCE: Yes, it is.

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

    LESLIE: Hey, if you think the holidays are stressful for you, your lawn and garden are holding on for dear life as cold temperatures kick in. Roger Cook from TV’s This Old House is here with tips to keep them alive through the winter.

    TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch Mechanics Tools, delivering the rugged reliability you’ve come to expect from Bostitch. Designed for the professional, built to last.

    LESLIE: And by The Home Depot, featuring Delta Temp2O hand showers and showerheads, with technology which tells you the water temperature before you get in the shower or bath. Perfect holiday gift and available exclusively at The Home Depot.

    NORM: Hi. I’m Norm Abram from This Old House. And when we’re working on our projects, we listen to The Money Pit.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Leviton, the brand most preferred by builders for wiring devices and lighting controls. With a focus on safety and convenience, Leviton products are the smart solution for all your electrical needs.

    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: And if you’re coming up short on gift ideas this holiday season, you can put those gift cards away because you are listening to The Money Pit’s special Holiday Gift-Guide Edition. And we’ve got gift ideas that will knock the socks off every person in your life, from the weekend warrior to the wannabe DIYer.

    LESLIE: And in keeping with the holiday spirit, we’re giving away not one but two prizes from our gift guide to callers that we talk to on the air this hour. Now, one caller will soon be charging devices faster and easier and with less hassle, because they’re walking away with two Leviton USB Charger Receptacle Outlets.

    Get this: Leviton outlets replace your standard outlets and they give you 2 USB ports, in addition to 2 standard, 15-amp outlets. You can learn more at Leviton.com/USB.

    TOM: Plus, another caller will never step into a frigid shower situation again because we’ve got the Delta Temp2O. It’s available exclusively at The Home Depot. And basically, the way this works is the Delta Temp2O Showerhead will display water temperature so you can avoid stepping into a shower that’s too hot or too cold.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And these gifts are useful and innovative. You get that great moment when the recipient tears off the wrapping paper and oohs and ahs over these really cool gadgets. But the payoff doesn’t stop there. This gift won’t sit unused in a toolshed or closet all year. It becomes a key component of your home or your do-it-yourself projects.

    TOM: So, give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win not one but two great home improvement gifts.

    LESLIE: If you really want to save yourself some trouble come springtime, now is the best time to ready your lawn and garden to help it survive the cold winter ahead and come back to life in a few months.

    TOM: And before it can get really cold, there are some pretty simple and inexpensive things that you can do, right now, to help your lawn and your shrubs survive winter’s freezing temperatures. Here to tell us where to start is Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Thanks for having me.

    TOM: So, first up, you don’t want to put the garden hose away just yet, do you?

    ROGER: No. The most important thing to do is keep your lawn and your plants hydrated right up until the ground freezes. I mean it’s just so important for them to go into those cold winter months with as much moisture as they can store in the plant.

    TOM: People don’t realize how dry the winter season is. They think of the winter as being a fairly wet season but from a plant’s perspective, it’s pretty dry.

    ROGER: It is. And just imagine a plant with the roots frozen and the wind going through the leaves or branches. And it just sucks the moisture right out of the plant.

    LESLIE: Is now the time to fertilize the property?

    ROGER: You don’t want to fertilize too much in the fall because it could encourage new growth. But what you do want to do is apply a balance fertilizer that will be there in the spring: maybe something organic that takes a longer time to break down.

    TOM: Now, what about the flower beds? Are there ways to protect those flower beds into the winter?

    ROGER: There’s a lot of things you can do. You can add extra mulch. I don’t like to encourage extra mulching except in the case of new plantings, especially perennials.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: Because sometimes, they’re not rooted very well and the frost can actually push them out of the ground. If you wait until the ground freezes and then apply a 4-to-6-inch layer of mulch or even ground-up leaves, it’ll stop that freezing and thawing. And that’s what causes all the damage to new planting: the roots actually get ripped off the plant.

    TOM: So are you saying to wait until it freezes and then put the mulch down?

    ROGER: Right. Because that’ll stop the cycle of cold and warm, cold and warm.

    TOM: Interesting.

    LESLIE: And that’s not going to thaw it by adding that extra warmth? It’s going to sort of maintain that freeze?

    ROGER: Putting a blanket right over it, it’s just going to stay there.

    LESLIE: And speaking of blankets, constantly – and I can’t understand this – I see certain neighbors who will burlap-wrap a certain shrub or bush or tree for the winter season. And I always wonder to myself, “Should I be doing that?” You know, what is the purpose behind that? And is there a certain tree or shrub that needs it?

    ROGER: My question always is: why do we plant something that needs to be wrapped up?

    LESLIE: Right. (inaudible at 0:23:40).

    TOM: That’s right.

    ROGER: And it looks so ugly for this brown pillow.

    TOM: Yeah. Mother Nature got it right except for that one thing.

    ROGER: Yeah. That one plant.

    TOM: We need a blanket.

    ROGER: Now, there are a couple of occasions where we would go against that rule. That would be something that was newly planted. The other is something – if you’re playing with something that’s not quite in the right zone. Sometimes, here in Massachusetts, I’ll put a plant in that’s Zone Six, which is warmer than what we really are: Zone Five.

    LESLIE: Right.

    ROGER: And protection for that plant might be necessary. And some other plants, like roses? They need protection, too. But for the most part, my philosophy is if it can’t stand the winter, head south.

    LESLIE: I see a neighbor who has a cypress that’s very, very tall and wraps it, then binds it and puts a bucket on top.

    ROGER: Must look pretty nice, huh?

    TOM: Bet you love that.

    LESLIE: I can’t understand it. I cannot understand it.

    ROGER: No. No.

    TOM: We’re talking to Roger Cook. He is the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    Roger, we talked a lot about the importance of keeping the plants moist. Another way to do that is to apply an antidessicant spray, which is a compound that basically prevents some of that dehydration, correct?

    ROGER: Yes. It’s a substance that’s waxy so when it dries, it seals the leaves or needles. And it’s used primarily on evergreens.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: And what you have to do is – plants like rhododendrons, you’ve got to make sure you seal the underside of the leaf, because that’s where the openings are where the moisture goes in and out. They’re called stomata: the openings on the bottom side of the leaf.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: So, sometimes, people just spray the top and that’s not where all that water is escaping from the plant. You have to make sure you shoot up, as well as down.

    LESLIE: That seems like a lot of work.

    ROGER: It’s not. It’s really easy. If it – all you have to do is have temperature over 40 degrees, walk around with a sprayer and just go for it. It’s a piece of cake and it can really make a difference. And again, we’re talking about newly planted things that really need that extra care for the first year.

    LESLIE: OK.

    TOM: Now, what about protecting landscape against heavy snow, the kind of snow that can really bend and break things? Is there a way to kind of prep your yard for that kind of a snowfall? I mean it seems like we’ve got it; every two or three years, we get pounded.

    ROGER: Yeah. And one of the things we do do now is we move the plants away from the house so that there’s a 2- or 3-foot space between the plants and the house. And when the snow comes off, it can fall there without damaging the plants.

    The other thing is you can tie them up with some twine. I prefer to do that because it’s still the plant and not the brown burlap you see everywhere. Third thing is we’ve actually built tepees that we put over the plants so that when the snows comes down, it causes it to shed to the side and not crush the plant.

    TOM: Good advice. Roger Cook, the landscape contractor on TV’s This Old House. Now we know how to repair our lawns and our gardens for the winter season ahead.

    Thanks, Roger.

    ROGER: You’re welcome.

    LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House andAsk This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Lumber Liquidators. Hardware floors for less.

    Still ahead, keep the holiday spirit alive by keeping accidents and injuries at bay. We’ve got tips to help you safety-proof your house against common holiday hazards, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Chamberlain Garage-Door Openers, with a battery backup for when the power goes out and MyQ technology that alerts you when your door is open, so you can close it from anywhere. Discover smarter possibilities at Chamberlain.com.

    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: And if you’re coming up short on gift ideas this holiday season, you can put those gift cards away because you are listening to The Money Pit’s special Holiday Gift-Guide Edition. And we’ve got gift ideas that will knock the socks off every person in your life, from the weekend warrior to the wannabe DIYer.

    LESLIE: And in keeping with the holiday spirit, we’re giving away not one but two prizes from our gift guide to callers that we talk to on the air this hour. Now, one caller will soon be charging devices faster and easier and with less hassle, because they’re walking away with two Leviton USB Charger Receptacle Outlets.

    Get this: Leviton outlets replace your standard outlets and they give you 2 USB ports, in addition to 2 standard, 15-amp outlets. You can learn more at Leviton.com/USB.

    TOM: Plus, another caller will never step into a frigid shower situation again because we’ve got the Delta Temp2O. It’s available exclusively at The Home Depot. And basically, the way this works is the Delta Temp2O Showerhead will display water temperature so you can avoid stepping into a shower that’s too hot or too cold.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And these gifts are useful and innovative. You get that great moment when the recipient tears off the wrapping paper and oohs and ahs over these really cool gadgets. But the payoff doesn’t stop there. This gift won’t sit unused in a toolshed or closet all year. It becomes a key component of your home or your do-it-yourself projects.

    TOM: So, give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win not one but two great home improvement gifts.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bob in Florida who’s dealing with a very noisy air conditioner. What’s going on?

    BOB: Ah, it’s when it’s – it’s a new air conditioner. When it comes on, it just sounds like the wind is blowing through the house, like a real hard wind.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Now, is the whole system new or just the condensing unit?

    BOB: Well, not the ducts up in the attic. They’re not new.

    TOM: So you were used to a quieter system than before this was replaced. Is that correct?

    BOB: Oh, yeah, way quieter. Uh-huh.

    TOM: You might want to check and find out if the fan speed is adjustable.

    BOB: OK.

    TOM: Because it sounds to me like they’re pushing so much air through there. That’s what’s giving you that whistling noise. This is all workmanship, OK? This is a – you need to call that contractor back and explain that you’ve been living with this system for a long time and it never sounded like this until they replaced all the equipment. And they may have not have it set up correctly. If the fan is going too strongly, if it’s too high of a speed, it could be pressurizing those ducts. It can’t get enough air out and as a result, you’re getting all of that noise and all that whistling sound. This should not be a difficult thing to resolve.

    BOB: Alright. I appreciate it very much.

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

    Well, it’s the most wonderful time of the year but some of the best things about the holidays can also be the most dangerous.

    LESLIE: Yeah. For example, the holidays are synonymous with lights, crackling flames, and candles. But before firing up these holiday hallmarks in your home, be sure you’re not fueling a possible injury, accident or even tragedy.

    TOM: That’s right. So, for starters, do this: check the batteries in the smoke detectors. Now, if you love to use candles or open flames or even if you just want to be extra safe, it’s a good idea to mount a fire extinguisher in a centrally located place in your home.

    Now, when you go shopping for a fire extinguisher, you have to remember that there are three different types of extinguishers. They come in Class A, B and C. And each class basically denotes a different type of fuel that they’re designed to protect against. The best thing to do is to buy a combo extinguisher that covers Classes A, B and C. This way, you are covered for wood and paper, for electrical and for grease fires.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And speaking of fires, if your Christmas tree is artificial, make sure it’s fire-resistant and then go ahead and keep it away from heat sources, like your fireplace, radiators, even forced-air vents. You also want to make sure that any heavy ornaments aren’t too heavy for the branches, so they’re not falling off and breaking and your kids and pets won’t get hurt. You don’t want to damage the ornaments you love so much, too.

    TOM: Now, live Christmas trees can also turn dangerous once they dry out. So, to prevent that, make sure you purchase a tree as close to the holidays as possible. You want to cut the trunk at a 45-degree angle so it absorbs the most water. And make sure you fill that tree stand with water at least once a day and then move it outside no more than three weeks after Christmas.

    LESLIE: Man, if you’re keeping it that much longer, we’ve got other things to discuss.

    And while we’re on the topic of Christmas décor, everybody loves vintage items. It really is all the rage but those vintage items can be extra-dangerous. Now, only power holiday lights that feature the UL seal of approval. It stands for Underwriter Laboratories. And if an old light doesn’t have it, don’t use them.

    And keep in mind that older decorations might lack the non-flammable protection that comes with today’s modern décor.

    TOM: And finally, the most catastrophic accidents are sometimes the ones that could have been easily avoided. So, extinguish all those candles in your home before the wrapping paper goes flying, stuff like that. You know, keep those flames away from kids and pets and paper and keep those hot bulbs out of their reach, as well.

    888-666-3974. Give us a call, right now, with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. Perhaps you’re getting your home ready for the holidays. We are here to help.

    LESLIE: Janet in Kansas is on the line dealing with a condensation problem. Tell us what’s going on.

    JANET: Well, my husband and I, we have steel-framed windows and we get a lot of condensation on those in the winter. And it runs down on the window sills and ruins the finish.

    TOM: OK.

    JANET: And I was wondering if there were any suggestions on how I could make that stop.

    TOM: Well, the reason that you have condensation is because the windows aren’t well-insulated. So what happens is you have warm, moist air that’s inside the house and then you have cold air that’s outside the house and cold windows. And so as the warm air hits the windows, it condenses. Because the windows will chill the air; they’ll lower the air temperature and then it releases its moisture.

    So, short of replacing the windows with better-quality windows, this is going to be a challenging problem. The only thing that you can do beyond that is take steps to reduce moisture inside of your house by making sure you have exhaust fans, making sure your drainage around the foundation is good and making sure that you have proper attic ventilation. So, reducing moisture inside the house will help reduce the amount of condensation on the windows. But the reason it’s happening is because the windows are not insulated.

    JANET: OK. Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Well, holidays are a time when we take a lot of family photos. Now, if you’ve got an old photo that’s stuck to the glass, you can save it. We’re going to give you step-by-step instructions for removing them with as little damage as possible, coming up.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete & Cement products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

    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: And this is a very special edition of The Money Pit. It’s our Holiday Gift-Guide Edition. So if you or someone in your life is bogged down by too many projects and too little time, here is an idea: bring Money Pit with you on the job and get expert advice from Leslie and I while you work.

    LESLIE: Yeah. All you need is an Android wearable smartwatch like the Samsung Gear Live, the Moto 360 or even the LG G Watch. And once it’s on your wrist, you can access The Money Pit using the voice-activated iHeartRadio app.

    TOM: It’s the perfect gift for the busy DIYer in your life or just maybe for you.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, post your question just like this one here: “I plan to make photo collages as gifts for my family. But when I tried to remove the original photos from frames, I discovered that they’d stuck to the glass. How can I get the photos out without ruining them?”

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a tricky question and it’s one that actually we address, in a lot of detail, on our website. Simply search “how to remove photos stuck to glass.” It’s a question I actually got a long time ago. I turned to an old friend of mine named Michael Berry. He’s a professional photographer and a darn good one. And Michael actually gave us a lot of very specific, step-by-step advice on how to handle this.

    But interestingly, the older the picture is, the easier it is to remove, especially with an older black-and-white photo. And for the newer pictures, essentially, there is a product that is a wetting agent that’s used when developing film. And you can immerse this glass into that wetting agent and it may release that picture. But all of the details are on our website at MoneyPit.com. Again, just search “how to remove photos stuck to glass.”

    LESLIE: Alright. The next question we have from the Community section is: “I’m putting my house on the market in a few months. Is it worth it to have a home inspection done before I list it? Or should I just wait and see what comes out of an interested buyer’s presale home inspection?”

    TOM: You know, it’s actually a really smart idea to have a home inspection done as the home seller, for a couple of reasons. First of all, if there are any big repairs that are necessary, it’s really better for you to find this out without the home buyer being around. Because let’s face it, I was a home inspector for many years and when I found a big problem with a house, that always inserted a pretty significant level of stress into the transaction. Because then you have to decide how this is going to be dealt with.

    The buyer, of course, is afraid that just the minimal amount of repair work will be done and perhaps it’s going to be an ongoing problem when they move into the house. You have all of that drama, so it’s really a good idea to have that home inspection done up front so you learn this. This way you can either fix the problem or disclose the problem and say, “Look, I know the roof is 20 years old but it’s not leaking and I’m not going to replace it. So, that’s off the table. If you have any concerns about it, I’m just telling you upfront, right now.”

    But more important than that, if the home inspector that the buyer hires comes through and finds something different than what your guy found, well, now you kind of got a leg to stand on. And you can get your inspector back and sort out the differences, because now you have an advocate really representing your side of the transaction that has true technical expertise. Does that make sense? I think it does.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You really can’t be over-prepared when you’re going into a sale. And Tom is right. If you’ve got the knowledge upfront and you can share that information and not be surprised by it, you’re really going to get a better sale out of it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for listening to this very special Gift-Guide Edition of The Money Pit. We hope that you’ve picked up some ideas for the DIYers on your gift list.

    Remember, the Holiday Gift Guide is online – in all its splendor and glory and many, many gift ideas – at our website at MoneyPit.com.

    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.

    END HOUR 1 TEXT

    (Copyright 2014 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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