A Hot New Remedy for Cold Showers, Keeping Track of Valuables, and Picking Out the Perfect Christmas Tree
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: Happy Holidays, everyone. If you are planning a home improvement project that you want to get done in the next week or two, well, you’d better get to it. You can start by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. But more importantly, if you’re thinking about a project for the new year, this is the time to plan. We are here to help you with that. Just give us a call at 888-666-3974.
We’ve got a great show planned for you. Coming up this hour, if your house was burglarized, would you know exactly what was taken? How would you even begin to list the items you’re missing if you’re not sure what they are? We’ve got tips on how you can create an inventory of your house, the easy way, that will help with that project.
LESLIE: And also, the perfect Christmas tree is still out there just waiting for you. But will you know it when you see it? This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook is here with tips for picking the ideal tree for your family and your space.
TOM: And do you dread stepping into a freezing-cold shower? Cold winter mornings are no time for guesswork. We’ve got the perfect gift for anyone whose mornings could use a little boost, coming up.
LESLIE: And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Bostitch Mechanics Tool Set. Of the 235 pieces in this tool kit, 99 are specialty tools. And they’re all in one durable, portable, molded case. It makes a great gift if you’re willing to part with it.
TOM: Yeah, we totally understand if you want to keep this one for yourself. So, give us a call right now. That Bostitch Mechanics Tool Chest going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us on today’s show.
So, give us a call with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to it.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Scott in Alaska needs some help with energy-efficient lighting. How can we help you?
SCOTT: Yes, I’m currently changing over my house to all LED lighting. And I also – I have, currently, a few rooms with fluorescent-tube lighting and I’d like to change those over to LED. And I live up here in Alaska and I just haven’t been able to find the tubes with LED.
TOM: Yeah, they’re available. You can probably find them online and have them shipped to you. But they’re made in the same exact shape as the standard fluorescent bulbs. You know, they’re not inexpensive but they do have a very long life. Those kinds of lights will typically last like 50,000 hours or something crazy like that. I think the bulbs themselves are probably, I would guess, $20 or $30 a piece.
LESLIE: And the shipping is probably going to be a hundred.
TOM: Yeah, exactly. But they’re going to last a lot longer. I mean at this point, though, I would also price out replacement fixtures. Because you might find by the time you buy all those bulbs, it might be cheaper just to replace the fixtures. Plus, I don’t know how much energy is going to be wasted, because all those fixtures have the transformers built into them. There may be some system waste, in terms of the fixture itself.
SCOTT: OK. I’m just looking. I’m very impressed with the LED brightness and of course, the energy savings over a period of time. And I just want my whole house to be energy-efficient and save me money in the long run, so – but I just can’t seem to find them up here in Alaska yet. I do like going to Home Depot and they did have some LED tube – fluorescent tubes – but not in my size, currently.
TOM: Yeah. I would order them online and have them shipped. That would be the way to get them to your door, OK?
SCOTT: Alright. Well, thank you very much for your time.
TOM: Good luck, Scott. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now I’ve got Marcia in Missouri who’s got a moisture question.
Geez, Marcia, I hope you’re going to speak with a letter other than M. (inaudible at 0:04:15).
MARCIA: Right. Yes. What the problem is – oh, a couple of years ago we – we have 80 acres in the country around Curryville, Missouri. And it’s basically an oversized, two-car garage that we made into a cabin. Concrete floor, OBS walls, painted ceiling, OBS material painted with a little vent. But it’s still – the furniture sometimes gets this white, little, powdery, moldy substance on it and gets a moldy smell. And sometimes, the concrete floor sweats and we were trying to figure out what can we put on that to eliminate that problem.
TOM: Do you have a heating system in this cabin?
MARCIA: No, no. There’s no electric, no water.
TOM: Well, you chose very organic materials, of course, that are going to be attractive to mold when it’s moist and damp like that.
What can you put on it? Well, let’s see. You could probably put mold control on it – Concrobium Mold Control. And that’s a product that’s available from Concrobium. And it basically absorbs into the wood and into those building materials and it will prevent mold from growing.
But what you should also do is to try to take steps to minimize the moisture that’s collecting around the outside of this slab, because it’s probably drawing into the slab that way. So if you could do something as simple as add gutters to this cabin and keep the water away from that perimeter as much as you can, so it doesn’t just dump there, that will slow down the draw of moisture into the slab and reduce some of that humidity.
MARCIA: Is there any type of, oh, concrete paint we could put on it?
TOM: Well, you can still – you could put a – certainly, you could paint the concrete and that will stop some of the evaporation. But when you have an unheated building like this and you have all of those, like you said, OSB materials that you used in it, you’re going to get some mold.
LESLIE: Yeah. And I think it’s important, Marcia, if you’re storing items in there, you don’t want anything in cardboard boxes sitting directly on the floor. You want to put them in plastic bins or you want to have metal shelving that you can sort of pick things up off of the floor.
Same thing with your furniture. Even if you have a piece of wood furniture or a chair that has wooden legs, those are going to absorb up the moisture and then you’ll see mold and you’ll see cracking and splitting. So you want to get the stuff up off the floor.
MARCIA: OK. Well, thank you so much for your time. I love your program. I listen to it every Saturday when we’re up there at the country and I’ll be up there Saturday.
TOM: Alright. Thank you so much, Marcia. We appreciate you 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.
Well, we are quickly approaching the holiday and the new year, so if you’ve got something you want to get done fast, we are here to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, do you hate stepping into a frigid shower? Well, never do it again. We’ll tell you how, after this.
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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: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now. We want to talk with you about your home improvement project, your home design dilemma. Whatever is going on in your house that you could use a bit of help with, we’re here to do just that.
And if you pick up the phone and call us, we’ll toss your name into The Money Pit hard hat. Because one caller that gets on the air with us this hour is going to win a 235-Piece Integrated Mechanics Tool Chest from Bostitch.
LESLIE: Yeah, it’s got 235 pieces. It all comes in one durable, portable case that you can just take with you to any job. And it also comes with a Bostitch lifetime warranty. And it’s just one of the prizes featured in our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide.
TOM: Learn more at StanleyTools.com and check out our holiday guide online at MoneyPit.com.
Give us a call right now. We’re ready to help, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Jake is calling in from Ontario, Canada with a painting question. How can we help you today?
JAKE: Just calling because I’m doing some home renovations, obviously. And I’m starting to paint a room and I’m wondering what my best option is with regards to which order I should do things. So, I have baseboards on the walls. Just wondering if it’s a good idea to take the baseboards off before painting or should I paint with the baseboards on? And what order? Walls first? Baseboards first? Stuff like that.
TOM: There’s an amazing invention called “masking tape,” Jake. And it does the trick with protecting those baseboards.
So, obviously, you need to prep and prep is really the hardest part of painting. So getting the drop cloths down and getting everything masked off so you can separate the colors.
Now, are the baseboards painted now?
JAKE: They are, yeah. I just don’t like the color.
TOM: So what I would do is I would paint the baseboards first. I would paint all the trim first, because you can be a little sloppy about that. You don’t have to mask them off. Because if it gets on the wall, you’re going to paint the wall anyway. So I would go ahead and paint the baseboards first and the trim. And then, after it dries for a couple of days, then I would mask it off very, very carefully so that you can paint the wall colors whatever color you want.
Then, of course, the first step with wall painting is to do the – what we call the “cut-in,” where you paint along that masking-tape line and establish that edge around that border, around the walls and around the floor where the baseboard is. And then you can fill the rest in with a roller.
JAKE: So with the masking tape, is it a good idea to remove the masking tape right away? Or should I let the paint dry and then remove it?
TOM: Yeah, let it dry first.
TOM: And if it takes – if it starts to peel a little bit of the paint off – sometimes that happens – just take a razor blade and just slice the sort of the paint that went between the masking tape and the wall.
And there’s also different types of masking tape that have absorbents built into it that’s designed to specifically stop that from happening. One is FrogTape. A little bit more expensive but it has an absorbent built into it so it sort of gives you a much cleaner edge without that sort of rip-py kind of masking-tape edge that can happen sometimes.
JAKE: OK. Perfect. Thanks very much.
TOM: Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Now we’ve got Linda in Pennsylvania on the line with an insulation question.
LINDA: We have a two-story house built in the late 1980s. In the winter, it’s colder upstairs than downstairs and especially in the summer, it’s just really hot upstairs. We also – we have a whole-house fan and it’s – I don’t want to get rid of that. The one person that came and talked to us about insulation said we should get rid of that. I don’t know – rather the fan has blown some of the insulation over that blocks the soffit vents that we’re not getting enough circulation. So I guess I just don’t really know what to do about adding more insulation.
TOM: Alright. Well, first of all, a 1980s house probably has a minimal amount of insulation. What you really want is 15 or 20 inches of insulation.
Do you have decent space in the attic? Can you walk around up there?
TOM: OK. So how is it constructed? Is it made of trusses, where it’s hard to get around?
LINDA: Yes. And it’s not real high in the center. I mean you can get around but no, it’s not very high up there.
TOM: I would have blown-in insulation installed, because you can easily – a professional can get that where it has to go. Professionals are also good at making sure that the baffles are in place, which keeps it out of the soffits.
And then when it comes to the whole-house fan, you should have a cover for that for the wintertime, just to kind of seal it up a little bit. Perhaps cover it with some sort of an insulation blanket and then you can pull that off in the summertime. It will be a source of energy loss, so you have to kind of take that additional step. But I agree: it’s a great thing to have. But I will say it must have good exit venting, though, too.
Do you have big gable vents on the side walls of the house? Because when you turn that fan on, you don’t want to pressurize the attic. You want to make that air go out.
LINDA: No, we have the ridge vent. And when they replaced the roof a couple years ago, they did put in – they said there is a slightly larger-size ridge vent and that’s what they put in.
TOM: Alright. Well, then, that’s probably big enough to handle the exhaust venting.
So that’s what I would do. I would use blown-in insulation. Now, around the fan itself, what the installer will do is put sort of a wall around that made of sort of like a stiff cardboard, or some type of material like that, so that they can pile the insulation up higher against that opening and keep it away from the operation of the fan.
TOM: It’s done all the time, Linda, and it’ll definitely make a big difference in how comfortable you feel in that house, OK?
LINDA: Alright. Thank you very much.
TOM: Well, winter is certainly a real challenge for a lot of people. Winter mornings, in particular. But there’s a new product that most of us could warm up to after climbing out of bed each day and it’s called the Delta Temp2O.
LESLIE: Yeah, the Delta Temp2O is a hand shower that features an innovative LED display which shows your shower’s water temperature. So, a blue display for water below 80 degrees. Why would you want that? But it’ll tell you. Magenta for 80-110 degrees and red for water that’s above 110. So you’re never going to step into a shower that’s too hot, too cold, whatever the situation is again.
TOM: Now, the Delta Temp2O Hand Shower is available exclusively at The Home Depot. It installs very easily on any shower arm and it’s powered by water, not batteries. So there’s practically no upkeep.
LESLIE: It’s going to come with six adjustable spray settings, adding even more comfort to your shower. It’s going to make a great gift.
And right now, we’re giving away five Temp2O Hand Showers in our Facebook Holiday Home Improvement Sweepstakes. Be sure to check it out today at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
TOM: That’s Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
LESLIE: Elaine in Delaware is on the line with a bathroom-flooring question. How can we help you today?
ELAINE: I purchased an older house and when we went to replace the toilet, we’d seen some of the linoleum on the floor sticking up. So we pulled up the linoleum and underneath, we’d seen it looked like was rotted. So we started pulling it up and there was hardwood floor underneath.
So we decided we would stay with the hardwood floor. Now we can’t get the toilet to be flush because we’re missing that linoleum and that subfloor.
TOM: Well, there’s a product out that’s designed for almost this very situation. And it’s a toilet gasket that is not made of wax. It’s called Sani Seal – S-a-n-i S-e-a-l. And it’s a very thick gasket that takes the place of the wax seal. And because it’s so thick, it takes up that big gap that you’re dealing with. And it’s an excellent option for situations where you have taken the floor apart and now don’t have exactly the same flush floor that you had before.
Take a look at their website. It’s SaniSeal.com – S-a-n-i-S-e-a-l. Very simple device. About an inch-and-change thick and really well-designed.
ELAINE: OK. Well, that sounds great.
TOM: OK? Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: William in Tennessee, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
WILLIAM: Well, I’ve got a wood stove in my living room. And I have my stovepipe coming out the back, through an elbow, going straight up about 5 or 6 feet and then got another 90-degree elbow. And it’s going through the wall, through an insulated piece of stovepipe, to the outside and then another 90-degree bend and going up about 4 or 5 feet to my – to the cap (inaudible at 0:15:47).
TOM: You have three 90-degree bends in the wood-stove pipe?
WILLIAM: One, two – yeah, got three in it. And what’s happening is right behind my wood stove, I have a big, 3×6-foot plate-glass window that’s framed in. And we’re getting some leakage of black creosote liquid. It’s condensation or water of some type. It’s got creosote in it. It is actually dripping down and running down the inside of the frame of the window.
So the leak is in the – is inside the wall somewhere. And I have sealed and done everything that I possibly can and I don’t know how to stop this leak or what could be causing it or where to go from this point.
TOM: So, does the pipe exit the wall above the window?
WILLIAM: Yes, it does. Just above the window, to the left.
TOM: Alright. Well, see, here’s what could be happening. First of all, I really don’t like the fact that you’ve got three 90-degree bends in this stovepipe. That’s a lot of resistance to kind of overcome. And also, with the three 90-degree bends, that pipe has lots of time to cool. And so the cooler the pipe gets, the more condensation you get. As the condensation forms inside the pipe, it basically washes down the pipe, comes out the seams of the pipe and carries away all of the charcoal debris that’s inside the pipe with it. So that’s probably the source.
And I guess what I would be more tempted to do – it’s not so much the kind of thing where you’re finding a leak. I’d be more tempted to replace my stovepipe with at least a double-wall pipe that was insulated. Because then you’re not going to have that difference in temperature and it will – you will never have any of those kinds of condensation issues. And it’ll be a lot safer, too.
My concern with that pipe is it’s really hard to clean and every time you have a 90-degree bend in a pipe, William, that’s equivalent, resistance-wise, to 20 foot of straight pipe.
WILLIAM: Wow. So I might be better off just running that thing straight up through the roof rather than taking it out the side of the house.
TOM: That’s the best thing to do, with an insulated pipe – a triple-walled, insulated pipe – straight up through the roof and out, without all those bends. Just make sure you’re following the National Fire Protection Association guidelines for this. Get it inspected. And I think you’re going to be a lot happier with it.
William, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Hey, do you think it’s too late to find that perfect Christmas tree? Well, think again. Roger Cook from This Old House is here to help you decide on the perfect tree for your house and your home and where to find it, after this.
TOM: And This Old House on The Money Pit is brought to you by the Bostitch Mechanics Tools, delivering the rugged reliability you’ve come to expect from Bostitch. Designed for the professional, built to last.
LESLIE: And also by Delta Shower and Bath products, featuring Temp2O Technology. Know the water temperature before you step in. It’s the perfect holiday gift, available exclusively at The Home Depot.
ADAM: I am Adam Carolla. I’ve built hundreds of houses and I can tell you how to avoid falling into that money pit: listen to Money Pit Radio with Tom and Leslie.
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: Hey, do you wish Santa could turn you into a do-it-yourself pro? Well, if he comes up short, we’ve got a backup plan. Head online to Facebook.com/The Money Pit and click Like for great advice and info.
And on our Facebook page, right now, we are running the Home Improvement Holiday Sweepstakes. And one grand-prize winner gets a $500 Home Depot gift card and a Temp2O Hand Shower with LED temperature display. It’s all online, right now, at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.
LESLIE: Mike in Iowa is on the line with an insulation question. What can we do for you today?
MIKE: I’m looking to put some fiberglass insulation up in my attic. I have access to some 6-inch that’s faced on one side and it has foil on the other. Could I lay that down in my attic without having any problems?
TOM: You already have existing insulation there, right, Mike?
MIKE: Yeah, I’ve got 10 inches in my ceilings.
TOM: The answer is no and here’s why: the foil face is a vapor barrier and if you put a vapor barrier in there, you’re going to trap moisture. Now, a very common scenario is people put that up in the attic, they leave the vapor barrier facing up but that’s actually wrong. The only place a vapor barrier belongs is against the heated space, which would be under the 10 inches of insulation you already have there.
So, the foil face is not a good thing. Now, I will say that you – if you really want to be frugal about this, you could probably pull that foil off and lay the unfaced batt perpendicular to what you have right now. It’ll be a bit of a messy job because it sounds like it’s older insulation, so you’re going to have to protect yourself with dust masks and safety glasses, long sleeves and all of that.
MIKE: I don’t care to do that. But right now, in my attic, at one time I had a flat roof. And right now, I’ve got rolled tar – or not tar paper but rolled shingling up in my attic floor. That’s probably acting as a vapor barrier, I would guess, today.
TOM: It probably is, yeah. Because it would stop humidity from getting through it. The problem is that it traps it in the insulation and when it does that, the insulation doesn’t work well. Insulation that’s damp does not insulate, so that humidity is working against you.
MIKE: I have wood heat and it takes a lot of moisture out of the house. That’s probably in my favor, I would guess.
TOM: I would think so. Now, you want to preserve that wood floor? You want to use all of that wood floor space?
MIKE: I’d like to use as much as possible, yes.
TOM: Well, why don’t you do this? Kind of a way to kind of have your cake and eat it, too, is to carve out an area in the center of the attic that you reserve, basically, just for storage. And then you add unfaced fiberglass batts on top of the wood floor to the other areas. Yeah, it’s not perfect having that whatever floor covering you have in between but I still think it’s going to add some insulation to that space and help cut some of your energy bills. And unfaced fiberglass batts are not that expensive and pretty easy to handle.
LESLIE: Well, when it’s time to deck the halls, nothing is more confounding than finding the right Christmas tree. It’s got to be sturdy, it’s got to smell great and it’s got to last the entire season.
TOM: And to do just that, there are a couple of tricks of the trade that can help. Here with those is Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor for TV’s This Old House.
ROGER: Thanks for having me.
TOM: And Happy Holidays. And this is that one time of the year where you probably look forward to cutting down those trees, right?
ROGER: I do, I do. It’s a good thing to cut these guys down. But before you go out to cut a tree, there’s one important thing you should know: the height of your ceiling.
TOM: I was going to say, “Measure your house,” right?
LESLIE: But it’s also the circumference. You really need to look at the area. Because I always buy a tree that’s way too fat for the area that I’m going to put it in and it kind of hangs into the dining room.
TOM: Yeah. And I usually buy one that’s too tall and leave a nice brown streak on the ceiling every Christmas.
LESLIE: I’ve got that, too.
ROGER: “Roger was here.” “Dad was here.”
TOM: Now, when it comes to choosing a holiday tree, there are many, many different types of trees that you can choose from. I went to a Christmas tree farm with my son last year and boy, the guys there just started rattling off – must have been six or seven or eight different types of trees that they had on that farm. So, how do you decide which one is best for you?
ROGER: Well, I try to buy ones that are local to the area, that have been shipped the least farthest.
ROGER: Because they were all farmed in different areas and brought in.
I also look for ones that have really stiff branches. I have a lot of heavy ornaments and if I put it on a limb and it droops all the way down, that’s not a very good-looking tree.
ROGER: So I’m looking for something that has a good, stiff branch on it.
TOM: So the types that you could choose from – you’ve got balsam fir, you’ve got Douglas fir, Fraser fir and noble fir.
ROGER: Mm-hmm. Yeah, those are …
TOM: So these four different types of fir.
ROGER: They’re all great Northern plants. The noble fir is not as common as the other three are. The Douglas fir has a soft needle on it. The balsam fir and the Fraser fir have a little stiffer needle on it but they are the most fragrant – the balsam fir and the Fraser fir – for me.
TOM: And that’s really – an important part of the holiday season is smelling that tree.
Now, you’ve also got the pines: Scots pines, Virginia pines, white pines. But they don’t seem to have as much aroma to them, right?
ROGER: No, I don’t think they do. They’re not a common plant up here for us to use. Every once in a while, you see them but I would say that 90 percent of them are going to be Fraser and balsam.
LESLIE: And I think the interesting thing …
TOM: And the pines tend to get a little sappy, too, don’t they?
LESLIE: And the pines tend to not shed their needles, right?
ROGER: Yeah, they hold very, very well but …
LESLIE: So it’s six of one, half-a-dozen of the other.
TOM: Right, exactly.
LESLIE: If you want it to smell great, you’re going to be sweeping up needles as the seasons progress.
ROGER: Well, I’ve got – there’s a couple things you can do when you buy the tree. I mean check it when you buy it. If you’re pulling the needles and they’re all falling out in your hand, then you want to go to another one.
ROGER: Before it comes home with you, after you’ve picked out the perfect tree, have them shake it. They make shakers that’ll just rattle it and get all the dead needles off it right away so you don’t get them in your house.
And then once you get home, it’s water, water, water and more water. You don’t want that tree to go out. I skipped one crucial step and that’s you need to recut the butt.
ROGER: If it’s been more than an hour since they cut it for you at the farm, cut it again.
TOM: Mm-hmm. Because that really helps the tree absorb more water.
ROGER: Yeah. And a real trick, if you like the smell of a Christmas tree: take a little branch off the back and shred it. Cut it up into little pieces and put it in a bowl right before company comes over.
ROGER: The whole house will smell like a Christmas tree and no one will know your secret.
LESLIE: Well, that’s really nice.
Now, it gets to a point, though – I water the tree every single day, religiously. You know, first thing in the morning, I come down, feed the dog, feed the kids, water the tree. At some point, it stops drinking. How do you prolong that?
ROGER: Yeah, that tells you that it’s done. Unless you took the tree down and recut the base again, it’s not going to absorb any more water. But hopefully, that’ll be two or three weeks so that you have gotten through Christmastime. And that’s one other tip is before you take the tree out, make sure you get the water out of that basin. Don’t ask me how I know how but it spills all over the place.
TOM: Yeah, I like to do that. And also, the one thing that I will buy is the Christmas tree bag. Very helpful to be able to pull that up around the tree. It doesn’t get all the needles but it saves you a little bit of work.
ROGER: Yeah. But see, I disagree with that because that bag is not going to be recycled or chipped.
TOM: Ah, good point.
ROGER: It’s going in the landfill.
TOM: Yep, great point. Roger Cook, good advice about how to pick the perfect Christmas tree. And I guess the answer is: whichever one makes you feel most like Christmas is the right tree for you.
ROGER: That’s the one.
LESLIE: Alright. Catch the current season of This Old House and Ask 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 State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
Up next, if your house was burglarized, could you name every item taken? Carrie Mitchell can. She’s the founder of TWS Home Inventory and will tell you exactly how to do that, after this.
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: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question.
And one caller who asks their question on the air this hour is going to win a Bostitch 235-Piece Integrated Mechanics Tool Chest. Yes, 235 pieces. We’ve counted them. In fact, 99 are specialty tools. Basically, everything you need is in this one box and it’s all in a durable and portable, molded case. And every last piece comes with the Bostitch lifetime warranty.
LESLIE: Yeah, the Bostitch Mechanics Tool Chest is just one of the prizes featured in our 2014 Holiday Gift Guide. If you’re still looking for a gift for yourself or your do-it-yourselfer on your list, check it out, right now, at MoneyPit.com and you’ll get some really great gift ideas.
TOM: And give us a call, right now, for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win that fantastic mechanics tool set at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Well, becoming a victim of a burglary is a terrifying experience. First, you’re violated in your home where you seek safety and sanctuary. Then begins the intense process of trying to get back what was stolen. And oftentimes, homeowners really have a hard time figuring out what’s missing.
TOM: That’s where our next guest comes in. Carrie Mitchell is the founder of TWS Home Inventory, a service that will help you make a complete inventory of your belongings.
CARRIE: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
TOM: So, Leslie mentioned being a victim of a burglary but it would seem to me that besides being potentially the victim of a burglary, this is the kind of important document for you to have – an inventory of your home – especially if you are the victim of, God forbid, a fire or a flood or something that really caused a lot of damage and could even have completely destroyed the property that you had in the house to the point where it’s virtually unrecognizable, correct?
CARRIE: Correct. You know, try to place yourself with everything was gone and you had to try to remember what you had. And when you’re distressed anyway from the loss of the trauma of it, there’s no way you can remember what you have. So you need to document things and be proactive, not reactive.
TOM: So you guys have created a service where you actually come into people’s homes and do that. And I think that that’s fantastic. Unfortunately, there’s just you and you’re in Colorado. But I would think that you must have some advice for those of us that are do-it-yourselfers that want to try to create an inventory of our own belongings. It would seem that it’s a rather overwhelming project. How do you break it down and kind of get started? What would you suggest the steps be?
CARRIE: Yeah. I would love to teach people how to do that. Basically, what I do with my people – and you can do this yourself – is make sure that you take pictures and you go around and you document every single room. And you take what I call – I do an A overview of each room. I do all four corners of each room so that if I don’t detail everything, at least I have a picture to jog my memory and show where things were in those rooms, in case it was destroyed or in case you were burglarized. You can see what was there and what’s missing.
LESLIE: Now, in the event that the police officers – say you’re burglarized or trying to get items back and you’re taking the photography of the room to sort of be prepared for such an event, does it make sense to photograph serial numbers on, say, a television?
CARRIE: Oh, definitely. You definitely need anything that’s identifiable.
Thieves want to get in and steal things that they know that they can fence – they call it “fence” – or sell without being trackable. So if you’ve got ID numbers – like think of how many iPads get stolen. Well, if you’ve got your serial number and all that documented, not only does the police – can use that in a police report, as far as to Craigslist and pawn shops and everything else, because you have proof, then they can catch the robbers a lot easier. But you get your merchandise back to where, otherwise – the police tell me all the time they recover so many stolen goods but they don’t know who to rightfully return it to because nobody has proof that that was theirs.
So, definitely, that is a huge thing to do is go around and do all your serial numbers of your cameras, your tools. People don’t realize their garages. I always tell people this: don’t forget your garage. You have more valuable things in your garage, per square foot, than anywhere in your house. You’ve got tools, sporting equipment, all those things. So don’t forget to document those things.
Don’t forget to document jewelry and things that show identifying characteristics on them. Furs. They love to sell furs, silver, coins, guns. They usually target your bedroom, because that’s where we store a lot of things. But just – the more detailed pictures you can have, the better. I can’t tell you the peace of mind it’ll give you just by spending the time to do it.
And store it off-premise. That’s the main thing is store it off-premise. Do not keep it in your house because if your house burns down and your pictures are there, you wasted your time.
TOM: Good tips. Carrie Mitchell, the founder of TWS Home Inventory, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
CARRIE: Thank you.
TOM: And if you’d like more information, you can visit Carrie’s website at TWSHomeInventory.com.
LESLIE: Well, the jury is still out on 80s music, but do houses built in the 80s stand the test of time? Hey, my jury is all decided. That 80s music is awesome. So what about those houses? We’re going to tell you the perks and problem spots of houses built back when your hair was longer in the back and shorter in the front, still ahead.
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, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Well, the holiday season means a lot of celebrating but don’t put home maintenance on the back burner. We’ve got your winter checklist in the form of 12 days of holiday home improvements. Check it out on Twitter with the hashtag #12Days.
LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can post a question in our Community section. And first up, we’ve got a post from Bill in New York who writes: “We’re looking to purchase a home built in the mid-80s. What are the biggest changes in construction in building codes from the 1980s to today? Are there any drawbacks to houses built around this time?”
TOM: Well, you’ve got to think about the age of the house, Bill. So we’re talking, essentially, about what’s going to be around a 30, 35-year-old house. So when you have a house of that age, you’re onto your second roof, probably at the end of a normal life cycle. Hopefully, your furnace has been replaced. You’re probably onto your third water heater. These are the kinds of things that have to be analyzed. And you can find out this information most efficiently if you hire a good-quality, professional home inspector to do a review of the property before you commit to making that purchase. So I would encourage you to do that as a first step.
In terms of construction quality, what I found with the 80s is houses went together pretty quickly. Some of the kitchens – the quality of the kitchens, for example – I remember those cabinets. Those were what they called the “European-style” cabinets. All the laminates on there I’ve seen delaminate. It’s sort of the durability issues that come up, the wear-and-tear issues that come up. But that’s going to be pretty obvious if you see a lot of beat-up stuff.
But let’s face it, if it’s 35 years old, there could be a lot that’s been done to that house since then, right, Leslie?
LESLIE: Yeah. I mean really, it could be that it’s gotten a lot of makeovers over the time. It could be that it has a lot of the original building materials. I know in the 80s, glass block was very popular. Not so much today, so you might be dealing with something like that.
And also, mirror was of great popularity in the 80s. So if you’re going to want to be removing a lot of mirror from wall surfaces that’s been glued on, you’re going to have to deal with possibly breaking that mirror. But a trick is to use piano wire – piano string – and slice the glue behind the mirror. And then it should be able to kind of pop it off but it will break, anyway.
If you’re intentionally breaking a mirror, not bad luck.
TOM: You know, one area that you’re definitely going to have to do some updating to would be the bathroom. Because the way they tiled the walls and the floors back there was really chintzy. They essentially put in greenboard, which is a water-resistant – underline resistant – drywall product. And they would glue the tile right to that. If those bathrooms haven’t been gut-renovated – yes, where all the walls were taken out – that’s definitely going to be on your to-do list.
So, again, get that home inspection done and make your decision from there.
LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from David in North Carolina who writes: “I had a leak in my kitchen skylight that’s since been fixed. However, the track lighting under the skylight stopped working a few days after the leak. There are two tracks on each side of the sink and only one, directly under the skylight, went out. I bought a new power-source supply and installed it thinking this would do the trick but the lighting isn’t working still. What should I do and can I do it myself?”
TOM: You should replace the tracks. If those light fixtures got wet, they should be replaced. And frankly, if that was caused by a storm, it could even be covered by your insurance.
So, you don’t want to mess around with trying to do a partial repair for something that’s electronic like that. Track lighting is not that expensive. I would go out and buy new tracks, rewire them so it’s nice and safe and secure and you won’t have to worry about it again.
LESLIE: Yeah, David, when it comes to electricity, you don’t want to mess around. It’s something that you really should just replace. Track lighting has become pretty affordable, so I wouldn’t risk it. Just replace it and make sure that you’ve got things that are in good working order to avoid, potentially, a house fire.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this holiday hour with us here on The Money Pit. We hope we’ve given you some tips, some advice, some inspiration to tackle your home improvement project.
And remember, if you run into a question, if you’re headed towards a jam, we are here to help dig you out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
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(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.)