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    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, 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: Happy Holidays, everybody. The weeks are ticking away to Christmas. If that is a holiday that you celebrate, let us help you celebrate by getting your house ready for the hordes of people that will arrive. Pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We know there’s a project on your to-do list; we are here to put that in the “done” column. We can help you if you help yourself first, though, and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974 is the telephone number you need to know.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, holiday shopping and parties are underway but with all those festivities comes one big downside and that is a big increase in the amount of trash we create. So we’re going to tell you how you can cut down on all that holiday waste with some easy tips for holiday recycling.

    LESLIE: Are you kidding? From November to January, we become a two trash-can family. It’s crazy.

    Also ahead this hour, are you looking for an invigorating shower to wake you up in the morning? Well, we’ve got ideas for an easy shower upgrade that’s going to give you a spa-like showering experience. That sounds great.

    TOM: It does. And if you’d like a nice, warm floor to step out onto after that shower, you might want to think about adding radiant heat to your home. It’s very energy-efficient and it’s super-comfortable. We’re going to tell you about that, in just a few minutes.

    LESLIE: Plus, we’re giving away the Stanley FatMax Tool Box. It’s worth 30 bucks. It’s strong but it’s lightweight. It’s got great storage for all of your hand tools.

    TOM: And a terrific gift idea, as well. It’s one of the many holiday gift suggestions online at MoneyPit.com. So pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Caroline in Missouri is dealing with a ducting and HVAC problem. Tell us what’s going on.

    CAROLINE: Well, we live in a two-story house and the upstairs, the dust just gets terrible. Every day, I have to do a lot of dusting.

    TOM: OK.

    CAROLINE: We have central air and – but we use electric baseboards in the winter and we have a gas stove. Looks like a wood stove; looks like a fireplace. And it pretty well heats the house and the dust is only bad in the upstairs.

    TOM: Right. And that’s because warm air rises and carries the dust with it.

    CAROLINE: Right. That’s what my husband said.

    TOM: He’s smart.

    CAROLINE: Oh, he must be, because that’s what he said. He said it’s because of the warm air rising up there and that dust …

    TOM: In the summertime, when you have the central air on, you probably get more air circulation. And so the dust would be drawn into the system and then taken out by the filter.

    CAROLINE: Right.

    TOM: So I suspect it’s worse in the wintertime.

    CAROLINE: Yes. Yes, sir, it is.

    TOM: Well, I don’t know that there’s a solution for that because – unless you can cut back on the dust that you’ve got going on in your house there, Caroline. But living on a farm, I’m sure that that is a constant presence.

    CAROLINE: Yes, sir, it is.

    TOM: Yeah.

    CAROLINE: I guess one solution would be get a maid.

    TOM: That’s right.

    LESLIE: Now, Tom, could she add a whole-house air cleaner into the central-air system and just run the fan without the actual cooler in the winter months?

    TOM: I mean potentially, you could. And what Leslie is suggesting is a whole-house electronic air cleaner designed to fit and work inside the ducting system that runs the A/C. And then you would run the fan periodically to basically circulate and clean the air in the house.

    LESLIE: And just clean the air. Generally, this works great when people have forced air for both heat and cooling, because it’s operating continually year-round. But in your situation – you know, I sometimes know in the winter months, if the house gets stuffy – we only have central air conditioning and steam heat. But if the house gets stuffy or if I’ve cooked or a big dinner party, I’ll run the fan just to sort of move the air around.

    CAROLINE: Right.

    LESLIE: And it doesn’t cool the house. So in your situation, it might be something where once a day or every so often, you just kick that fan on to just cycle the air through and clean it out.

    CAROLINE: That’s a good idea. I really appreciate that.

    LESLIE: They’re not terribly expensive. Aprilaire makes one; it’s the Model 5000, I believe. Several manufacturers do make them. They have a different type of filter system; it’s like an accordion-style media that just electronically charges and really sucks every particulate out of the air, whether it’s dust or viral or odor. So it’s beneficial other than just the dust.

    CAROLINE: Well, I really appreciate that. Thank you so much. I’ll share that with my husband.

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

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

    MIKE: I have – I do renovation work at the beach: condos and houses and whatever.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: But I’ve run into this two times: one at a three-story condo and the other at my neighbor’s house; I renovated it last year. But in the wintertime, when the heat’s turned on, it’s – the ceiling separates from the walls. And there’s a visible gap about a ½-inch, depending on how cold it is outside.

    TOM: Right.

    MIKE: In the springtime, the gap will disappear and you’ll not see it.

    TOM: Well, being near the beach, I assume you have very high humidity. And so what that means is the walls are going to swell in the warmer weather. And then when the heat comes on, they’re all going to dry out and they’re going to shrink. A ½-inch does sound like an awfully big gap. Are you exaggerating at all or is it really a full ½-inch?

    MIKE: It varies from a pencil-line crack to a ½-inch. I’ve seen a ½-inch where it actually did.

    TOM: Right. I’ve seen it many times and typically, the way to fix that, Mike, is to repair the drywall. But instead of using paper tape, use the perforated fiberglass tape: the one that looks like sort of like a mesh or a netting. It’s a lot stronger and if you sand down – pull off the paper tape, sand down the area, use the mesh tape and then put more spackle up there, that usually keeps it together a lot better than the paper tape did.

    MIKE: It certainly seems excessive. And the house was built in the 70s and it is not built under the same codes that we build with today with the tie-downs.

    TOM: Sure. Right. Mm-hmm.

    MIKE: We’ve got hurricane tie-downs and stuff now.

    TOM: Right.

    MIKE: But anyway, I thought I might run it by you guys because you all seem to know right much.

    TOM: Well, we – I don’t know if – I don’t know how much right much we know but I do know that I’ve seen that many, many times, especially in beach communities, because of the difference in the humidity being so, so high and that lumber swelling.

    LESLIE: Thanks.

    TOM: And doors swell and floors swell and everything swells and then it just dries out very rapidly when the heat comes on. And it could do some funny things to those walls.

    MIKE: Well, I appreciate you.

    TOM: Alright, Mike. Good luck with that project. Thanks for checking in with 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 one short week away from the big holiday festivities. So if you’ve got a home improvement project you need to tackle pronto, give us call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re here to help you with the ho-ho-home improvement at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    And with the holidays upon us, did you know that our household waste increases by as much as 25 percent during those holidays? We’re going to have some recycling tips to help you cut down on your holiday trash waste, keeping you green for the holidays in more ways than one.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Time to get your fix. Pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just get the answer to your home improvement question and the opportunity to win a very cool prize. We have the Stanley FatMax Foam Tool Box worth 30 bucks.

    You know, when you say “foam tool box,” you’re thinking Styrofoam. No, no, no.

    LESLIE: Like a cooler you pick up at 7-Eleven? No.

    TOM: No, no, no. This is structural foam. This is a tough tool box. I know because I’ve got one and I’ve had to use it as a step stool many times. It is really quite sturdy. It’s also got a watertight seal, it protects your tools in all weather and it’s got an ergonomic handle that makes it easy to carry. It is one of the gift suggestions that we have in our holiday gift guide at MoneyPit.com. It’s going to go out, though, to one caller that has the guts, the courage, the time to pick up the phone and call us with their home improvement question right now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, with all of the festivities that we’re really super-involved in this time of year, everybody’s happy and we’re all having a great time and you think, “Oh, there’s no downsides.” But there actually is one. I’m talking about your garbage.

    In fact, between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the average household’s waste will increase by 25 percent. That’s a lot of rubbish. That’s why it’s important to make recycling a huge part of your holiday tradition.

    For example, if you’re getting new electronics this season, be sure to recycle the old ones: laptops, e-readers, even game systems. Those all can be recycled. And you can find a local recycling center for all of your electronics at Earth911.com. So make sure you look it up before you toss it out.

    TOM: And if you plan ahead with your holiday décor, you can also cut down on waste with that. Think about using natural decorations that can be composted, like poinsettias and evergreens. And don’t forget to recycle the wrapping paper. It takes no time for a family to fill up several garbage bags full of wrapping. You can do much better than – folks, think about being green this holiday season.

    If you want more tips, just search “holiday recycling” at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Kim in Michigan is on the line with a countertop question. How can we help you?

    KIM: We just got a house that we bought and we’re remodeling the kitchen. And I’d like to know what a good, inexpensive countertop would be that is durable and is pretty inexpensive if we’re remodeling on a budget.

    TOM: And you have an existing countertop there?

    KIM: I do.

    TOM: It’s laminate?

    KIM: It is.

    TOM: Is it structurally in good shape, Kim? Is it – does it have any water damage?

    KIM: No, no water damage.

    TOM: OK. So, a couple of things come to mind.

    First of all, you can relaminate the old laminate. So in other words, you can put another layer of laminate on top of what you have. And there’s more colors and designs than ever before.

    So, a carpenter can do that. It has to be a good trim carpenter or a cabinet maker that knows how to glue laminates together. It’s not really hard to do; I’ve done it on a number of countertops myself. Works well.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. But you have to take out the sink and …

    TOM: Yeah, it’s best if you do it by – like I would – if I was doing it, I would pull the countertop off the cabinets and do it kind of like on a couple of sawhorses.

    KIM: OK. Oh, OK.

    TOM: It’s just a lot easier to work on it because you can get all the way around it.

    The other thing that you could do is think about tiling the countertop. And there’s a product out called Bondera Tile MatSet, which is an adhesive sheet with an adhesive on both sides. And it prevents you from having to use the tile adhesive. You just roll the sheet down, it sticks to the countertop, pull the other side of the protective backing off and you can stick the tiles right on and then grout immediately.

    KIM: Well, thank you.

    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Good luck with that project. And by the way, don’t forget the other inexpensive things that you can do in the kitchen, like lighting and changing hardware on cabinets and painting. We’ve got a great article online at MoneyPit.com that gives you all of the inexpensive ways that you need to know to remodel a kitchen on a budget.

    KIM: Oh, great. I’ll look that up.

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

    LESLIE: Charles in Iowa needs some help in the laundry room, like most men do. Charles, what’s going on?

    CHARLES: Hey. About a year ago, I bought my wife a front-loading washer and dryer and thought I was doing something really good after the kind of the Thanksgiving sale, Black Friday event. And ever since then, our clothes and the washer just smells really musty.

    And I have done a lot of research on the internet and I quit using the liquid fabric softener. I’ve cut our utilities back a whole lot. I’ve used the little pills: the thing that you’re supposed to put in there. I’ve used Borax, I’ve used Simple Green. I’ve done it every month, I’ve tried it every week and my wife is ready for me just to get rid of these things and go back to a top-load washing machine. And I’m wanting to know, is there anything I can do to get this smell out of the washer and off the clothes?

    LESLIE: Now, when you’re washing the clothes, are you immediately putting them in the dryer or are they sort of sitting for a little bit?

    CHARLES: They’re probably sitting sometimes for a bit but even when they don’t sit, the towels are always smelling like that and the drum smells like that. I mean I even saw one place that I was researching that the kind of the answer from the manufacturer was when you’re not using your washer, leave your door open.

    TOM: Now, most of the time when you have odors with front-load washing machines, it’s the door seal itself. Now, have you attempted to thoroughly clean the door seal using a bleach-based product, turning it inside out and cleaning the seal?

    LESLIE: And getting in all of those different layers and nooks and crannies.

    TOM: Nooks and crannies.

    LESLIE: Because that’s what happens: the water and the detergent all sit in that seal and then it just stinks to high heaven.

    CHARLES: No, I haven’t done the seal. I did take it apart and clean the filter out and so – and there really wasn’t anything in there. I haven’t – no, I haven’t cleaned the door seal or anything like that.

    TOM: Well, I suspect that the newer seals are addressing this. It’s sort of like the worst-kept secret of the appliance-manufacturing business, that these front-loading machines do smell. But they’re also very, very efficient, so the way they’re built is quite different than what you would see in a typical laundromat.


    LESLIE: And I think with a laundromat, they’re used so frequently. And having lived in Manhattan and Queens for many, many, many years, if you walk by when a laundromat’s closed, every washing machine’s door is wide open.

    CHARLES: It just sounds like a whole lot more work. And I know that I’m saving some money on electricity and water and all that stuff but …

    LESLIE: Oh, completely.

    TOM: Definitely. So I think this is all going to come out well. You’re just going to have a bit more maintenance to do than what you anticipated. But we’re going to try to do is get you doing the right maintenance steps to make that odor go away and keeping you and your wife happy.

    CHARLES: Alright. Thank you, guys, for all your help.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got new homeowner Jane from California on the line who’s owning a different house than usual this time and has some questions. What can we do for you, Jane?

    JANE: Hi. Thank you guys so much for taking my call. It’s a real treat to get to talk to you.

    LESLIE: Thanks.

    JANE: Well, I sold my money pit in the country and I bought a house in town.

    TOM: Oh, good for you.

    JANE: And it’s built on a slab; you know, it’s built on concrete.

    TOM: Right.

    JANE: And I’ve never had a house that way. And I probably should have done some checking before but I’ve got it now. And I just wanted to know, are there particular things that I need to be concerned about or be aware of or to watch out for? And I live in earthquake country. What do you know about houses built on a slab?

    TOM: Well, it’s actually a very common way to build a house and here where we live in the Northeast, it’s extremely typical. You either have homes that are built on slabs, on crawlspaces or on full basements. And it’s a perfectly normal way to build a house. It’s completely structurally stable.

    Of course, it’s a little inconvenient if you want to run a new set of pipes for a bathroom or something like that if you can’t …

    JANE: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Or move all of your plumbing systems completely.

    TOM: Right. Because you can’t get under it. But it’s a perfectly fine system.

    I will say this, Jane: do you have any problems with termites in your area of the country?

    JANE: No. Where I live, it’s adobe soil and the termites really don’t like it very much.

    TOM: OK. Pretty dry. Yeah. Because in where we live, it’s hard to spot them when they get into the slab and they do get into the slabs. You may be in an area where they have drywood termites and it’s not as much of an issue. So I think you have nothing to worry about living on a slab.

    JANE: OK.

    TOM: It’s just the way it’s done in your part of the country and it should be perfectly comfortable and perfectly stable for you for many years to come.

    LESLIE: If you are looking at changing any of the flooring that is on top of the slab, directly on your first floor, there are certain things you need to keep in mind: that you can’t use a traditional hardwood because it will warp and twist. So, laminates or engineered hardwoods are best for you or stone or tile: anything that’s not going to react with the moisture that’s just naturally inherent with a concrete slab.

    JANE: What kind of wood did you say?

    LESLIE: Engineered hardwood or a laminate. An engineered hardwood is sort of like a plywood base where it’s built up in layers of opposing grain and then the top is the actual hardwood veneer. And that’s structurally stable.

    JANE: OK. OK. Well, that’s good to know. Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate your show a lot. I learn so much from you.

    TOM: Oh, you’re very welcome, Jane. Good luck with that new house and 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. Well, one of the worst parts of waking up on a winter’s morning is crawling out of bed and putting your nice, toasty feet on a freezing floor. Well, the solution is easy and it’s radiant heat. It’s an efficient way to keep your toes and your whole house toasty. We’ll have details on how you can do that, when we welcome Richard Trethewey, the expert plumber from TV’s This Old House.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the HydroRight Drop-In Dual Flush Converter, proud sponsor of Water Conservation 2011. The HydroRight easily converts your toilet into a water- and money-saving dual-flush toilet. Push the quick-flush setting for liquids or the full-flush for more. Look for the HydroRight at The Home Depot and other fine retailers or visit SaveMyToilet.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: Hey, are you getting ready for a big holiday feast and thinking, perhaps, you’ll clean your oven just before you start getting ready to bake everything? Well, here’s a tip: don’t do it. Check out our blog on MoneyPit.com to find out how to make sure your oven is ready for all of that baking.

    The reason you don’t want to do it, by the way, now is because there are few things in life that puts more stress on an oven than the self-clean cycle. And if you run it, say, just the night before you’re getting ready to prepare that big holiday meal, if it’s going to break, it will break and good luck trying to get a repairman. It’s just not going to happen. Instead of baking your pies, you may be heading to the bakery if you can ever find one open.

    So, don’t clean it right before you need it; clean it when you’ve got some time to plan for a repair if it should happen to you.

    LESLIE: Tony in Oregon needs some help installing a closet door. Tell us about your project.

    TONY: I had a Pergo floor installed in one of my bedrooms and by one of the home improvement stores. And the one thing they didn’t do is install the closet guides for the floating-style closet doors, because they’d have to do something to the floor. And so my question is: what’s the right way for me to put that plastic guide at the bottom of the floor? How do I mount that to the Pergo without doing damage?

    TOM: So, do the doors slide well? They seem – they don’t have to be trimmed or anything?

    TONY: Right. Yeah, they slide fine there.

    TOM: OK. So, it’s pretty simple. I mean what you do is you position the plastic guide right where you think it needs to be, make sure you leave enough room, you know, so the doors can slide easily.

    TONY: Yep.

    TOM: You want to mark the holes where the guide would be attached to the floor. And then you just want to pilot-drill out the laminate floor and then screw right through the guide into the pilot hole and secure that down.

    TONY: OK.

    TOM: The laminate floor would be – is pretty easy to drill.

    TONY: Yep.

    TOM: Alright? Just make sure you get it right the first time as, otherwise, you’re going to have extra holes in your floor.

    TONY: OK. I had heard that I should use a contact adhesive or things like that and so I …

    TOM: No, there’s no reason that you can’t drill into the laminate floor, none whatsoever.

    TONY: That makes a lot more sense to me. Thanks a lot.

    LESLIE: Well, for many, one of the most unpleasant steps you can take in your home is by setting foot on a cold floor with bare feet.

    TOM: So true. And that’s just one of the reasons adding radiant heat to your floor is a great idea. Not only does it stop that toe shock, it can actually make your entire home more comfortable and cut down on your energy bills. Here to tell us more about radiant heat is Richard Trethewey, the plumbing and heating contractor from TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Richard.

    RICHARD: Glad to be here.

    TOM: Now, this is a project that can be done from above or below the floor, right?

    RICHARD: That’s right. It can be installed from below the subfloor or above if the area below is difficult to access.

    TOM: Now, let’s talk about the types of radiant heat. The one that you most commonly work with is hydronic heat, correct?

    RICHARD: Right. That’s a fancy word that people don’t understand; they think it’s hydraulic, hydronic, hydroponic.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    RICHARD: But it’s really just the use of warm water to circulate through pipes and the other is electric.

    TOM: Now, how does the hydronic heat work? Is it run through special types of pipes?

    RICHARD: What you really want is you want to have these veins running through your building that are going to last. And so the plastic pipe of choice is called PEX – P-E-X. And that can be installed a couple of different ways. It can go from below the subfloor; it can be sandwiched in between the subfloor and the finished floor, as well.

    TOM: Now, I’ve seen you, on the show, use something that looks like sort of grooved-out plywood boards that’s made for the radiant heat to fit right in. And can you talk about that?

    RICHARD: That’s right. It’s that sandwich I was just talking about where you’ve got your plywood subfloor and you put down these plywood strips that have aluminum attached to the back side. It has a perfect groove in it to allow you to put the tubing right into it. It has a place for the tubing to return back and forth, so you have a serpentine pattern of radiant heating in your kitchen. And then you put your finished floor down over the top of it.

    The key on that is to make sure you don’t put the radiant underneath your kitchen cabinets, don’t put it under the island. It’ll make the potatoes grow like a weed.

    LESLIE: Now, are there better flooring choices that work more in partnership with a radiant floor?

    RICHARD: Well, everybody has to understand that the more you put in terms of R-value on top of the floor, the hotter the water and the hotter it is to send the energy up into the room. So tile or marble or stone is the greatest because it just gives off its heat so readily. And then – but some people want to put wood floors on; that’s fine. With any solid hardwood, you’ve got to be sure you get the moisture level correct. I’m particularly a fan of prefinished wood, which is – it really comes out of a box and just clips together and it’s – it doesn’t have any issues.

    TOM: Like engineered hardwood, for example.

    RICHARD: Absolutely. And it works great and it’s perfect for radiant. And you can do carpet but you have to find a place where you can live with a carpet that doesn’t have too high of an R-value and too thick of a pad. Because if it is, you’re just defeating the purpose already.

    LESLIE: You’re not even going to feel it.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: We’re talking to Richard Trethewey. He is the plumbing and heating contractor from TV’s This Old House.

    Richard, let’s talk about that radiant electric heat. Now, that’s something that’s typically used in the kitchen or the bathroom. Good application for those small rooms, especially?

    RICHARD: Well, it’s such a great sort of way to chase the chill off of a room. I don’t think I would always use it in our particularly cold climate; we’re based in the Northeast here. I might use electricity just as a backup to sort of chase the chill off the tile. But in marginal climates, it could be the principal way you heat the building and there’s nothing better. And you can put it in floors, you can put it in walls of shower stalls. You really don’t think one-dimensionally; you can put it in a lot of different places.

    LESLIE: Now, Richard, how efficient is radiant heat? I mean are you really going to save a lot of money if this is your primary heat source?

    RICHARD: Simply put, there is no more efficient way to heat the human body than radiant heating.

    TOM: Wow.

    RICHARD: You put it into a floor, you stand on it. You have warm feet and a cool head. As the heat heats the person, it gets cooler as you go to the top of the room. Now, at the top of the room, that’s where most heat loss happens. So if you have less heat at the top of the room, less heat leaves the building. And you’re only circulating warm water; you’re putting 95- to 105-degree water where most baseboard or radiator jobs need 180 or 200 degrees. No better way to heat and no more efficient way to do it.

    TOM: So you’re wishing us warm feet and a cool head always in life.

    RICHARD: That’s right.

    TOM: That’s a great thing to live by. Richard Trethewey from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and filling us in on the warmth of radiant heat.

    LESLIE: You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos on radiant heat and other projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you by Stanley. Stanley, make something great.

    Up next, besides a warm floor, a hot shower is a great way to fend off the cold of winter but not if your shower has lost its punch. We’re going to tell you about a new way to restore the flow, after this.

    (theme song)

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone. It’s time to get your fix. Call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And you should pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. This hour, we’ve got a great holiday gift for the home improver in your life or even yourself. We’ve got up for grabs a Stanley FatMax Super Foam Tool Box worth 30 bucks. This thing has got sturdy construction, a watertight seal. You can put all of your hand tools in there. It’s a really great tool box and a great gift, even for yourself.

    So visit MoneyPit.com today to learn more about our top picks for holiday gifts and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for help with your holiday home improvements and your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, has your morning shower felt like it’s sort of lost its vigor? There is a way to get that refreshing feeling back and that is by replacing your old showerhead with a new Twist Handheld from Moen.

    This is a very cool, very innovative new showerhead. I really like it because you can change between the different sprays with just a thumb control. So it’s very easy to switch between sprays that are an immerse kind of a spray or an invigorating sort of full-coverage spray and even a soothe, kind of relaxing heavy-mist spray, all with the thumb control. So it’s a very innovative product that allows you to easily move between those different spray patterns. And it saves water at the same time.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what I really like about the showerhead is that there’s an actual setting for you to clean the shower, so you can use the showerhead to clean the shower itself. Because it’s just super-strong and really focused, so it’s perfect for when you have to do that, you know, not-so-fun chore of actually cleaning the shower. And the Twist is super-easy to install, so you can actually have your new shower going in just minutes.

    Now, the Twist from Moen is available at The Home Depot or head on over to their website, which is great. It’s Moen.com and you can learn all about it there.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now. We know there’s one more project you’ve got to get done this week. You’ve only got a week left before the big holiday and then we get New Year’s and onto the New Year’s resolutions. Why wait? Do it now. Pick up the phone; we will help you at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Steven in Washington needs some help creating a basement apartment. How can we help you with this project?

    STEVEN: I’m converting the basement into an apartment and about half of the wall up is concrete. And I was wondering how to attach the sheetrock to the concrete.

    TOM: So you want it to be completely flush when you’re done? In other words, we don’t want to see the concrete when we’re all finished, correct?

    STEVEN: Correct.

    TOM: OK. So first of all, we don’t recommend that you use sheetrock or drywall, because it’s paper-faced. And whenever you do this in a basement situation, you really want to minimize the amount of paper-faced drywall. There’s another product called DensArmor, which is a fiberglass-faced drywall product. And because it’s fiberglass-faced, it can’t grow mold.

    You can get that at home centers or lumberyards. You may have to order it but it’s a little more expensive than drywall but definitely, definitely worth using that.

    LESLIE: Yeah and it’s made by Georgia Pacific, so if you have any questions about it, head on over to their website. It’s DensArmor and it’s a great product. It’s definitely worth it for a basement space.

    TOM: As far as attaching it is concerned, what we would recommend you do is frame the interior of the wall in front of that concrete. You could use metal studs for this and you would attach the drywall right to that surface and not attach it to the concrete itself. This helps minimize the amount of moisture transfer from – through the concrete and into the wall surface.

    Many folks will attach wood strips to the wall and then attach the concrete to the wood strips but now you have a direct moisture connection with the outside. We’d much rather see you put up a frame wall – metal studs or wood studs – and then attach the DensArmor product to that wall structure. You are going to give up just a few inches of floor space but I think it makes for a much neater, better job and one that really is going to have no chance of turning into a mold problem.

    STEVEN: Oh, thank you very much.

    LESLIE: Jean from Illinois is calling in with a concrete question. How can we help you today?

    JEAN: Yeah, I’ve got about a ½-inch crack on my patio.

    TOM: OK.

    JEAN: And I’ve tried everything you can imagine to caulk it – I’ve tried concrete, I’ve tried patch, I’ve tried everything in the store – and it separates over the winter.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, well, you’re trying the wrong products. I don’t know what you’ve been putting down there. Caulk is not the right product; concrete is definitely not the right product. The only products that are going to work here are epoxy patching compounds because they adhere permanently to the old, deteriorated concrete surface and they do not separate. They’re not – the water can’t get into these products, so there’s nothing to freeze and split them apart.

    So, what you want to buy here, Jean, is an epoxy patching compound and if you can’t find one at the store, there’s a company called Abatron that sells them online – A-b-a-t-r-o-n.com. They have a product called Abocrete that’s a liquid epoxy that’s blended with sand that works very, very well here. You could mix it up kind of loose if you need a thin layer or thick if you’ve got to really build up an area that’s been deteriorated. That will fix it once, it’ll fix it right and you won’t have to deal with it again, OK?

    JEAN: OK. And I can only order that online?

    TOM: You probably – there’s probably local distributors but I would go to the Abatron website and find out where there’s one in the Illinois area, OK?

    JEAN: OK. Thanks so much. That’s what I thought. I kept asking about epoxy and they said, “No, no, no.” Because I know how epoxy works.

    TOM: Yeah, next time listen to that little bird in your head because it’s always going to be right.

    JEAN: Yeah. Yeah, OK.

    TOM: Well, have you ever had trouble getting paint to stick to certain surfaces? There is a solution. We’ll tell you what it is, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Hometalk.com. Join Tom and Leslie on Hometalk.com and log on to become part of the community of folks who love taking care of their homes, at Hometalk.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. We are here to help you get the project done, so pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Hey, did you know that when it comes to your home, really your front door makes your home’s biggest impression, especially when it comes to your holiday decorations? So why not check out our website, MoneyPit.com? We’ve got tips on making your front door a holiday masterpiece. You’ve only got a week left, so really use this time wisely and just make your home so super-festive for this lovely time of year.

    TOM: Alright. Turning now to MoneyPit.com’s Community section. B. from Rhode Island has a question about painting. She says, “Why does high-gloss, oil-based paint bubble, blister or peel on cedar surfaces? Is there any inherent chemical in the cedar that rejects high-gloss, oil-based paint?”

    Hmm. Interesting question. First of all, if your siding – if your wood siding – is wet, if it’s damp, you will not be able to get paint to stick. So, the first thing that comes to mind, B., is that you may very well have tried to paint this material when it was damp.

    Secondly, you don’t want to paint it unless you’ve primed it first. Remember that primer has a different quality than paint. Primer is sort of the glue and it’s designed to reach into that cedar, really grab hold and not stand up to UV. Why not? Because that’s the top coat’s job. Then you put the top coat on. Now you have the hold and you have the weather protection all in one contiguous protective surface.

    So, if the wood is wet, it’s going to blister. If you’ve not primed it, it’s going to blister. And oh, by the way, why are you using oil paint on your wood siding? There’s really no reason for that today. I mean I know that’s the way that people did it for decades and decades but things change. Come on. Stay up with it. You really want to use a latex paint today. They are awesome quality. They really do a good job. They totally stand up and that’s what we would recommend that you do for this project.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, I’ve got a post from Jeff who wrote: “I recently installed a new fiberglass entry door that looks great. We have considered installing a storm door outside but I’ve heard that I need to vent the door so it doesn’t warp or ruin the entry door. If so, how do I do this or should I just skip the storm door?”

    I personally don’t like storm doors. I’m not a fan.

    TOM: This is like a mish-mosh of a lot of sort of old wives’ tales coming together. First of all, if you had a steel door and you had the vinyl trim around the window of the steel door, then you add a storm door on top of that, you get this sort of greenhouse effect where the UV gets through the storm and stays in there and melts the vinyl trim. That’s where the idea of the melted door comes in.

    With fiberglass, I don’t think that would happen but the key here is that because you have a fiberglass door, it is far more energy-efficient than a steel door or a wood door. You don’t need …

    LESLIE: There’s no need to put that extra layer.

    TOM: Correct. You do not need a storm door. In fact, I just personally installed not one, not two but three fiberglass doors on my house. We had storm doors before; we will not have storm doors now. I will, however, on one door – and that’s the back door – add a screen door so we can have ventilation in our kitchen. But not a storm door, because it’s just not necessary.

    And I put in the Therma-Tru doors and I’ve got to tell you, they are absolutely beautiful, strong and super-energy-efficient.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And safe. They really do lock very well. So, Jeff, I say skip that storm door. You made the right decision going with fiberglass and enjoy it.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope we gave you a few tips, ideas and a bit of inspiration to help you get that project done that’s on your to-do list. If we haven’t, well, pick up the phone and call us any time of the day or night at 888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in then, we will call you back the next time we’re in the studio.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.


    (Copyright 2011 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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