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How to Avoid Disaster When Using Propane, How to Install or Replace Windows Yourself, Learn How Much Insulation You Need in Your Attic, and more.

  • Transcript

    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: Pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement project, because we are here to help you get that job done. Help yourself first, though, by calling us, because we can make it safer, easier, faster, less expensive. Because that’s what we do. And we do it all for you, so give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, we’re moving into the fall home improvement season very, very quickly now, which is nice. It’s kind of the Goldilocks time of year: not too hot, not too cold; it’s just right. You can work inside your house, you can work outside your house, you can even work up in the attic. So if you’ve got a project planned, let us help you get started by calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one project you might have a mind to do is to reduce your energy bills. And your home’s windows can help you do that, because they can pretty much make or break those bills. If yours are ready for replacement, you may be wondering if it’s a project you can do yourself. It turns out the answer is yes. The way windows are being built today, it makes it a lot easier to put them in than ever before. We’re going to tell you more about what type of windows make this a project for any weekend warrior, in just a few minutes.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And another important factor that you need to keep in mind when you start analyzing your energy bill is your insulation. Now, most people don’t have nearly enough. We’re going to tell you what the Energy Department recommends for your area, later on.

    TOM: And are you using your microwave only to heat up last night’s leftovers? If so, you might be underusing this very versatile appliance. We’ve got tips on some uses for microwaves that you never would have thought of. And we’ll have those in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead this hour, have you ever had to deal with a clogged drain? My guess is going to be yes; I feel like everybody has had this situation. Well, we are going to help you be prepared for the next one, because we are giving away a Liquid-Plumr Double Impact Snake + Gel System. Now, it’s got a 23-inch snake, which is going to dislodge hair and all that other gunk that tends to get stuck in the drain and clog everything up.

    I just feel like the girls are going to get blamed for this right now but let me tell you, whenever there’s a clogged sink at our house, it’s always my husband’s. I don’t understand how that’s working out.

    But this prize comes with the snake that’s going to dislodge all that gunk and then a thick gel to flush the rest of it away. And the winner is also going to get a $50 gift card to The Home Depot. Pretty awesome.

    TOM: So let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Mike from Tennessee calling in. And what’s great is that Mike tuned into us on Facebook and knew that we were in studio and gave us a call through our Facebook fan network.

    Hey, Mike. Welcome.

    MIKE: Our house is on a slab and we’re wanting to change to possibly some type of wood flooring but trying to decide what type would be best and how to go about that decision.

    TOM: OK. Well, it’s very easy. Because your house is on a slab, there’s only one type of wood flooring that you can put down and that’s called engineered floor. The reason it’s called engineered floor, Mike, is because it’s put together in layers, kind of like plywood where you have alternating layers of wood? And that’s necessary for it to be dimensionally stable.

    If you were to try to put down solid hardwood floor on a concrete floor, that concrete is so damp and moist that the solid hardwood would very quickly warp and twist and it just wouldn’t work. So you want engineered hardwood and that can be installed as a floating floor, which means the floor pieces themselves would lock together but they don’t really attach to the floor. They just kind of float and they go down over an underlayment which is usually, with engineered, like a thin foam, so it even gives you a little cushion when you walk on it. And you cut it to fit the room and you cover the exposed edge with some molding when you get out to the baseboard.

    So it’s pretty straightforward, pretty easy project to do. I would buy the best-quality engineered that you can afford, because it really counts on the finish. If you get a commercial-grade, for example, finish, it’s going to be far more durable, because it is almost impossible to refinish. So you really do want to have a good-quality finish first time out of the box.

    MIKE: Well, that’s great information. I appreciate it.

    TOM: You got it. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Joanne in Alaska is on the line with an electric-heating question. What can we do for you today?

    JOANNE: Well, I have purchased a money pit next door to my home and it’s a five-unit complex that was built around 1901.

    TOM: OK.

    JOANNE: And it has this heating system – I’m from New Orleans, originally, so knowing about heating systems is not my forte.

    TOM: Yeah, well, now that you live in Alaska, you’d better learn quick, huh?

    JOANNE: I’m working on it. But the house I lived in had oil heat; this is a wall-mounted – it’s about 4 feet by 20 or 24 inches.

    TOM: Right.

    JOANNE: The surface of it looks like warming trays that you use – a buffet, you know? It’s like a (inaudible at 0:05:29) thing and is this still made? I have one glass that’s broken. They do have wall-mounted thermostats. What is the efficiency of this kind of heat? Is it ridiculous or …?

    TOM: It’s not. It is ridiculous. I mean it’s – first of all, it’s electric heat, so – it’s electric-resistance heat. They’re just using the glass as the heat exchanger, so to speak. And I’ve seen these before and they sort of hang off walls and the air is supposed to pass through behind them and sort of create this convective loop.

    JOANNE: Right.

    TOM: And will they work? Yeah, they work but they’re very expensive. Are there any other heating options for you there?

    JOANNE: Well, electric is my only option in these units. They’re all electric, so is there a more efficient electric type of heat?

    TOM: Well, a heat pump – electric heat pump – would be the most efficient but I think in Alaska, I’d probably rule that out. The climate is just too raw for that. So, no, I guess you’re going to be stuck with resistance heat.

    Now, if they’re broken – you mentioned that one was broken?

    JOANNE: Yeah, the glass on one of them is broken.

    TOM: Well, if the glass is broken, I guess it’s potentially unsafe. Depends on how the heating coil is distributed inside that glass. If you did have to replace them, you can buy new glass wall-panel heaters. And actually, some of them can look kind of stylish. Some of the new ones look almost like a flat-screen TV; they’re black and sort of modern-looking.

    JOANNE: Is that better than the baseboard heat? I see a lot of people here use these baseboard heaters.

    TOM: Yeah, they’re all electric heat, yeah. The only advantage is that you’re able to control the heat of each individual room separately that way, so you have a bit more control. But it will be expensive to run.

    JOANNE: Mm-hmm. OK. So the best alternative would be to put in oil or something to bring a different kind of heat in.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. If the fuel was available, you would be almost always better off with oil, propane or gas than electric.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can be part of The Money Pit. Pick up the phone, give us a call with your home repair, home improvement, design, décor. Whatever you are working on, we are sort of about to enter the super-busy season for homes: holidays, lots of family coming over, lots of things to get ready for. So give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’re here to give a hand at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you have propane appliances? Well, if you do, you probably get lots of use out of them but are you handling the fuel properly? We’ll have some important safety information, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Flood. Know how to open a can of wood stain? If it’s Flood Wood Stain, you’ve already mastered the hardest part. From the first board you brush to the last, Flood products make it surprisingly simple to protect and beautify your deck, fence and more. Find a retailer at Flood.com.

    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. The number here to give us a call is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one caller who makes it on the air with us this hour is going to be fully prepared for their next clogged drain. We’re giving away the Liquid-Plumr Double Impact Snake + Gel System. And it’s safe for all types of plumbing systems. If you’ve got a septic system or whatever type of plumbing pipes you’ve got, it’s going to work. And it’s a unique combination of a powerful clog-clearing gel with a tool that’s really designed to clear the hair and all that other gunk that pretty much causes all of this nightmarish situation to happen.

    And Liquid-Plumr is also going to throw in a $50 gift card to The Home Depot. So call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Bob in California is on the line and dealing with some plumbing issues. Tell us what’s going on.

    BOB: It is in regards to the water hammer that you get in the plumbing normally. I would say it’s either in the walls but mostly in the ceilings.

    TOM: Right.

    BOB: And what I understood is – and correct me if I’m wrong – is they run the plumbing in the attic and then they’ll run an extension up a foot or so that just goes up and deads (ph). And it’s to carry a volume of air, so instead of working as a hammer when you turn the water on and off and it hits hard, it uses that air.

    TOM: That’s true. That is a way to create a water-hammer arrestor with air in the pipe. That’s sort of the old-fashioned way to do it. The high-tech way is with these sort of small diaphragms that are sort of stretched across the pipe with compressed air on one side, that can actually be adjusted depending on the bang. And the rubber expands into the chamber and then pulls back again. So either is a viable option.

    BOB: Ah, I never heard of the other one. But what my question was, being old-fashioned – and my question is: about how often would you put them and how tall? And would they be larger, such as like a hydraulic ram would be or would they just be the normal-size pipe? And I would think, as a preventive measure, you’d do that. The reason I ask is just recently, they changed the plumbing in the attic in the apartment and it developed a water hammer when they changed it.

    TOM: So, the answer is they’re usually not very tall, the times that I’ve seen them. But today, I would use a water-hammer arrestor. So just look that up at the plumbing supply house – a water-hammer arrestor – and have your plumber install one of those on each line and that should deal with it permanently.

    BOB: I appreciate it. I just thought maybe there was a rule of thumb on how often and how tall that extender was.

    TOM: Yeah, you can do that but that’s the hard way. I would use the water-hammer arrestor and that will take care of it the easy way.

    Bob, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re only using your microwave just to simply heat up your leftovers, you’re actually missing out on some other very handy uses for it.

    For example, did you know that you can disinfect your sponges and get rid of that funky sponge smell with your microwave? All you have to do is soak that sponge in a water-and-vinegar mixture and then zap them for a minute. Remember, they’re going to be super-hot when you take it out of the microwave, so just be really careful. I’ve done this before and always will forget and go to grab it and be like, “Blah! It’s hot.”

    Now, you can also do the same thing with a cutting board except this time, you want to rub a little lemon on it, heat it for a minute and then you don’t even have to worry about last night’s raw chicken germs.

    TOM: Now, if you’ve ever found that perhaps your honey jar is a crystallized, solid mess, you can zap that back to life on medium power for about 30 seconds. You can also cut down on the grilling time by heating potatoes for a couple of minutes and bell peppers for just one minute before putting them on the grill. Just use oven mitts when removing the veggies, because the microwave gets pretty hot and you’re going to want to avoid a nasty burn.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s amazing. Things get ridiculously hot in the microwave, especially anything over 20 seconds. So just be careful.

    Now, another great tip is that you can use the microwave to warm up your citrus fruits. Not only does this help release the juice when you’re using them in recipes but it also actually helps release those oils into the skin. So if you’ve got a recipe that calls for zesting, this is really going to be helpful there. And it also brings out that nice citrus scent when you’re displaying your citrus fruits in a pretty bowl, which makes them a really nice and natural air freshener.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement project.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Sue who’s dealing with a leaky roof. Tell us about it.

    SUE: Hi, Tom and Leslie. Thanks so much for taking my call.

    We have a leak in our bedroom. And I live in – we live in a patio home which – you know, a two-story patio home. It’s got just a simple peak roof. The chimney is in the center of the house; it’s not on an outside wall. And the chimney stack has a wooden structure built around the stack itself.

    TOM: OK.

    SUE: And my husband was up there last year and thought he had resolved the problem. Whenever we have a very hard, driving rain – and he says mainly, when it comes out at the southeast – south or southeast – we get excessive leaking in our bedroom.

    TOM: Right.

    SUE: I mean the popcorn ceiling’s falling down.

    TOM: Oh, boy.

    SUE: It’s pretty bad, yeah.

    And so he was up there last year and he said that he tarred around the flashing or underneath the flashing?

    TOM: OK.

    SUE: But it’s obviously not resolved the problem. So we’re not sure if the leak is emanating from the bottom of this wooden structure.

    TOM: OK.

    SUE: The roof itself is only eight years old; it’s in very, very good condition. The chimney is directly above our bedroom, so we really suspect that’s where it’s coming from.

    TOM: OK. So the chimney pierces the roof above your bedroom? Is that correct, Sue?

    SUE: Yes.

    TOM: OK. And by virtue of the fact that you’re telling me your husband is tarring flashing, that, in and of itself, tells me that the flashing was probably not put on correctly initially. Because chimney flashing shouldn’t be relying on tar to remain leak-free.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And tar really isn’t the answer.

    TOM: Right. When properly installed, flashing is a two-piece operation. You have a base flashing and a counter flashing. The base flashing goes in between the roof shingles and lays up against the side of the chimney. The counter flashing gets notched into the side of the chimney and folded over the base flashing. And together, it creates a seam that can expand and contract with the roof and seal out water, regardless of direction.

    So, couple of things that you can do. You could just decide to have the chimney flashing properly replaced. And let me just tell you that you have to be very specific about finding a roofer that can do this properly.

    SUE: OK.

    TOM: You can’t leave this up to chance, OK?

    SUE: OK.

    TOM: You don’t want to hire another guy to go up there with a bucket of tar. You need a real pro that can properly assemble flashing.

    SUE: OK.

    TOM: The other thing that you could do is – is there some amount of roof that is above this that sort of drains into the chimney?

    SUE: As I said, it’s a patio home and it’s got a simple peak roof. The chimney itself is built on the back side of the slope, just on the other side of the peak.

    TOM: Right. If I was a drop of water and I was running down towards your chimney from the peak, how far would I have to travel? Like a foot, 10 feet, 20 feet, what?

    SUE: Oh, no, no, no. I’m looking at maybe 3 feet from the peak?

    TOM: OK. Alright. Because if it was farther down, I was going to tell you that you could install what’s called a diverter, which catches some of that water, runs it around the chimney so it doesn’t hit the back end of it.

    SUE: OK.

    TOM: But if it’s that close, you don’t have to worry about that.

    So, what I think you probably need to do is to replace the flashing, if it appears that it’s coming through the chimney. Now, this is a masonry chimney?

    SUE: No. It’s a chimney stack: just a metal chimney …

    TOM: A metal chimney? OK.

    SUE: It comes up and it’s surrounded by this wooden structure that’s been built around it.

    TOM: Is he sealing against the wooden structure?

    SUE: To be honest with you, I haven’t been on the roof and he’s not here to answer that question but I think so.

    TOM: OK. OK. So then, he’s kind of wasting his tar, OK?

    SUE: OK, OK.

    TOM: Because that’s just for show. If this is a – it’s called a “chimney chase.” If you have a chase around a metal vent type of chimney, then what you have to do is remove the chase and reflash the metal chimney where it meets the roof. And then you can replace the chase.

    SUE: OK. And he wondered about that, if it was coming from the top of the chimney stack and down into that wooden structure, not along the edges of the wooden structure itself.

    TOM: Maybe it’s the train going by your house that keeps rattling the roof leak.

    LESLIE: Right?

    SUE: Sorry. I tried to step in the garage so you wouldn’t hear that.

    TOM: Well, listen, the chimney chase itself is decorative. So I would take that out of the equation and get down to the metal vent itself. Seal and flash that and I think that’s going to solve your problem. If he’s just caulking around the chimney chase, water’s going to roll right through that and keep coming on in.

    SUE: OK. And he considers himself a jack-of-all-trades, master of none but he is pretty handy.

    TOM: Yeah.

    SUE: But you suggest that this is not something that he …

    TOM: Well, I would suggest that if he’s caulking the wooden chase and leaving the metal vent pipe, that perhaps a chimney repair is not one of the trades that he is the jack of.

    SUE: OK. And if he were here, he’d probably correct me. I’m not certain what he did. I’m a little afraid to get up on the roof myself.

    TOM: Alright.

    SUE: But alright, I will pass that information on to him. And I guess we’ll be calling a roofer.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, are you ready to be just about done with your leaky, drafty windows? You can actually install new windows yourself to save time and money. We’ll tell you how, after this.

    (theme song)

    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: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Roland in North Carolina on the line who needs some help removing some rust. What can we do for you today?

    ROLAND: I have some exposed I-beams in my basement that support a poured-floor garage above. And during construction, obviously they experienced some rust. And they’re 20 feet long, 12 inches high, so I’ve got about 400 square feet, if you will, of rusted steel. And I’m looking to paint them or finish them off a little bit.

    And I was looking at the Rust-Oleum products and figuring I would go through 15 or 20 cans just to cover that amount of space. So I was wondering if you guys had a better idea and how much prep I should do. Should I just – they haven’t rusted since the house has been finished but it does have a coating of rust on there. Is there a better way? And how should I be concerned about prepping them before painting?

    TOM: Well, a light sanding would be important to remove any of that loose rust – that loose surface rust. And it’s not deep; it’s just on the surface.

    ROLAND: That’s right.

    TOM: And then using a Rust-Oleum primer would be the next step. Not the surface paint but the primer. Now, instead of using individual spray cans, why don’t you buy the gallons of Rust-Oleum and rent a sprayer if you have to: a paint sprayer from a rental yard? It would make it super-easy.

    ROLAND: Right. That’s the best way to go?

    LESLIE: Yeah. Plus, you’re inside and using a can of spray paint is not going to make you feel very well and it’s certainly going to make the house stink up a storm. While certainly easy for application, it’s not really the best approach for an interior project. If you’re using regular paint through a sprayer – as long as you protect everything and cover up your ceiling from overspray and the floor, et cetera – you’re going to be in great shape.

    TOM: What I like to do is to try to depressurize a room when I’m spraying in it. So how would you do that? Very simply. You’d open up a window, stick a window fan in it, make sure it points out and then open up another window or door on the other side of the room and get some cross-ventilation. This way, you’re always moving the air outside the house, replacing it with fresh air.

    ROLAND: Sounds good. Is there any concern with the rust coming back through?

    TOM: Not if you prime it. If you don’t prime it, it can definitely come right through. But if you prime it, especially with a rust-inhibiting primer like Rust-Oleum, it’s going to kind of lock that in place. And as long as you don’t have any kind of serious leakage or something like that, I don’t expect it to come back through.

    ROLAND: Super. Thanks so much.

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

    Well, now it’s time for your Picture Perfect Tip, presented by American Craftsman Windows and Doors, an Andersen company.

    Well, as fall arrives, it’s a good time to be thinking about your windows and all of those drafts that you might have put up with last winter. You know, drafty windows can drive up the heating costs and they can also make you very uncomfortable. So, the solution, of course, is to think about installing new, high-quality, draft-free replacement windows. But here’s the question: can you install them yourself?

    LESLIE: Alright. Now, for most do-it-yourselfers, the answer is yes. Because replacement windows are custom-sized to fit your existing window openings. There’s no need to tear off existing siding to install them. You just remove the top and bottom sash – now that’s the part of the window that slides up and down – and the replacement windows then fit inside your existing frames, which makes the install super-quick and easy. And since replacement windows install from inside of your home, windows on the second story are a breeze to replace.

    TOM: Now, installing new-construction windows is a little more challenging but if you pick the right kind of window, you can still do it yourself. You just have to prepare the opening first. And keep in mind that new-construction windows are ideal for both renovations and additions to your existing home, as well as installation in new homes.

    LESLIE: Now, American Craftsman by Andersen has both replacement and new-construction vinyl windows that you can install yourself. And from now through September 26th, you’re going to get 15-percent off all special-order American Craftsman windows and patio doors at The Home Depot. Be sure to check out American Craftsman Series 8500 Double-Hung Replacement Windows, because they’re going to feature energy-efficient glass and they’re going to have that easy tilt-open system, which is great for cleaning those windows. And they also have new hardware that will tell you if the window is locked or not.

    TOM: Now, for new construction, American Craftsman also offers the great Series 3000 Double-Hung Window. They also have very energy-efficient glass and they never need painting. Plus, all these windows are beautiful and they will certainly add to your curb appeal.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, you can check out both the 3000 and 8500 Series and get some step-by-step instructions on the installation process at AmericanCraftsmanWindows.com.

    TOM: And that’s your Picture Perfect Tip, presented by American Craftsman Windows and Doors, an Andersen company.

    LESLIE: Sandra in Florida needs some help with her stilted beach house. Tell us about it.

    SANDRA: Yes. I have a beach house and it gets really cold in the winter, because it has only plywood underneath and carpeting on top of the plywood and a whole floor that is on stilts underneath that where the air can just go through. And so I was wondering – the wiring is all in between the joists and so I’m wondering if there’s any way I can insulate that where we would still be able to get to the wiring if there were a problem. Yeah, it’s exposed to the elements.

    TOM: No, you can just add fiberglass insulation. Now, if the fiberglass is exposed – not sure if you have any type of covering on the underside of that beach house. But if the fiberglass is exposed – another thing that you could do is you could use the blue Styrofoam sort of foam board as the bottom there. So you would fiberglass in between the floor joists and you would add the blue foam over that, make sure it’s properly attached and you should be good to go.

    SANDRA: Thank you so much.

    TOM: Up next, have you ever wondered if you really have enough insulation in your attic? Find out what the Department of Energy says you should have, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, visit StanleyTools.com.

    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: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and one lucky winner will get a stress-free solution for dealing with a clogged drain, because we’re giving away the Liquid-Plumr Double Impact Snake + Gel System. The snake dislodges the gunk that causes blockage and the gel flushes away the rest.

    The winner also gets a $50 gift card to The Home Depot, so pick up the phone and call us right now at 888-666-3974. And you must have a home improvement question to qualify.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got David from Michigan on the line who’s dealing with a leaky spigot.

    DAVID: I put these things on. I swept the copper into them on the – inside the house and put the copper – ½-inch copper pipe into them and sweating them on.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: And every spring, I have a leaker. The last three springs, really, I replaced four of them but I haven’t told my wife I had to do one last August, too. She thinks – and I get all my ideas and tips from you guys and she thinks I’m a home improvement guru, so …

    TOM: Alright. Well, let’s see if we can help you maintain your reputation there.

    So the spigot itself is leaking. If I understand your problem correctly, when the hose bibb is turned on and the spigot outside is turned off, it leaks, correct?

    DAVID: Correct.

    TOM: So, what you typically need to do is replace the valve stem.

    DAVID: That’s the – it runs all the way down the center of it?

    TOM: Well, what you would do is – there’s a nut that’s underneath the handle of the faucet.

    DAVID: OK.

    TOM: Of course, turn the water off first, right?

    DAVID: Yep.

    TOM: And if you unscrew that nut, then you can pull the valve stem right out of the hose bibb itself. And then if you take the valve stem apart, you’re going to find it’s got a washer on it; it’s called the “faucet washer.” And if you replace that faucet washer and put it all back together, then that should solve it. It’s really just that washer that leaks.

    Now, I wonder if by virtue of the way you keep soldering on new ones of these, if you’re somehow damaging that washer in the process, maybe overheating the pipe or something like that. Just speculating that might be the cause. But that washer is all it takes to have a leak-free hose bibb.

    DAVID: That’s awesome. That should get me back on the top of the ladder there.

    TOM: Alright. Well, we are very, very happy to help, David. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, if you’ve avoided going up in your attic all summer because it’s been a bit too toasty up there, you do need to head up there right now because it is the right time of the year to add attic insulation. This is going to save you money throughout the fall and winter seasons ahead because just like your body loses heat through your head, your home loses heat through that attic space.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, the EPA’s Energy Star program, they recommend at least 12 inches of insulation for most homes. And homes in colder climates should have around 16 inches.

    Now, when you’re shopping for insulation, you’re going to see a number with an R in front of it and that stands for Resistance to Heat Loss or R-value, you may have heard before. And the higher the R-value, the better the insulation’s ability to keep that heated air inside your house, you know, so it’s not escaping. It’s going to keep you warmer in your home and then keep your energy bills down.

    TOM: Now, to find out exactly how much insulation you should have in your attic, check out EnergyStar.gov. By answering a couple of questions about your home’s heating system and climate where you live, the Energy Star calculator will help you figure out the right level of insulation for your part of the country. And you’re probably going to be surprised how much you really need. That tool is online and it’s all free at EnergyStar.gov.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Kath in Alaska on the line who’s dealing with not-so-great water pressure. Tell us what’s going on.

    KATH: Hi. When we built our house about 18 years ago, it’s not so much the water pressure but we have a water heater and the pressure tank in the kitchen.

    TOM: OK.

    KATH: And I want to move them upstairs because we’ve added on since then. But about seven years ago, I noticed we started getting rust in our water and it’s been – the water leaves slime. Not lime but slime on the bathtub and the – or not the bathtub but the shower walls and stuff.

    TOM: OK. Right.

    KATH: Any idea what that could be?

    LESLIE: How often are you changing the filter on the pump?

    KATH: My husband takes care of that kind of stuff, so I have no idea.

    TOM: Oh. That would be never?

    KATH: Yeah, probably.

    LESLIE: Because you’ll see on the pump, in your control room – whatever you want to call it – there’s a tank on the side that hangs off that’s clear. It should be clear. But when that water gets really rusty and dirty and gross, that whole little, clear tank is going to just look mucky and rusty and disgusting and you just need to turn off all your water, unscrew that, change out the filter. And you’re supposed to actually do that every month.

    KATH: Oh. Well, it’s been 18 years, so it’s probably never been done.

    TOM: Probably overdue, yeah. And some of the filters actually don’t have to be every month; some of them can be done every six months. It depends on the kind of filter that you use but basically, you want to make sure you have a whole-house water filter on this, Kath, because that’s where you would be stopping the rust.

    LESLIE: And make sure you turn off the water.

    KATH: OK.

    LESLIE: I’m speaking from experience.

    KATH: Well, we don’t have any kind of conditioning – we don’t have any kind of water-conditioning system on this house at all.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Right. But this one …

    TOM: But you may not need one but what you might need is just a filter to take out the debris that’s coming up in the water.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Because my family has a beach home that my parents have had for ages and ages and we’re on a well there and we’ve got a well pump. And on the well pump is this filter, just to sort of take out the particulates, as Tom mentioned.

    And similar situation: you don’t change it as often, you end up with rust-colored water, sometimes a discoloration, a smell, a change in texture. And for some reason, this past summer when we opened up the house for the season, my husband and I were the first ones to get out there. And we went to change the filter and we thought we had closed the water supply completely and we just didn’t close it all the way.

    KATH: OK.

    LESLIE: And we undid the little tank and water was spraying everywhere. And you try putting that back on and trying to grab the main; it was a disaster. So just be careful.

    KATH: OK.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, if you’ve got young kids or grandkids, you know the artwork they give you can be plentiful. So what do you do with all of it? Leslie has got some tips on how to build a gallery that grows with you and them, after this.

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    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we love to hear from you, so head on over to the Community section and post your question, just like Pilar in Texas did. And she writes: “Is there a time of year that’s best to paint my house? Do hot or cold temperatures adversely affect the paint?”

    TOM: Yes, actually, they do affect the paint. You know, the ideal temperature is between around 50 and 90. If it’s too cold, the paint is not going to dry properly and if it’s too hot, it’ll actually dry too quickly, it won’t flow and you’ll get all sorts of sort of brush marks and that sort of thing. So, between 50 degrees and 90 degrees is the perfect temperature for painting. And of course, also make sure that rain is not forecast for the next day or so after you do that paint project.

    LESLIE: You’ve got to give the paint time to dry. If it rains the next day, you’re probably going to be painting half as quickly as you would have, so definitely give it good drying time.

    TOM: Well, as a parent or even a grandparent, I’m sure you, like we, want to encourage the little Rembrandts in our house, as our kids go to school and bring home all sorts of beautiful artwork and other creations. But the question is: what do you do with all of it? Well, Leslie has got the answer on how to create a gallery that can kind of grow with them, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s true. All kids really seem to love creative projects and that means a steady stream of artwork coming into your home. You want to encourage their creativity, you want to make them proud and you can do that by featuring their best pieces in a family gallery.

    So you can do it a couple of ways. Now, you can dress up the standard refrigerator display with the – you can find them pretty much anywhere: it’s a magnetized, clear-plastic frame. And you can have that for each child and they can choose what they want to display and change it out when something new comes in. It really gives them ownership of their own sort of gallery setup, which is really nice. And I’ve seen these little clear frames at anywhere from Target to Walmart to Michaels. Even Staples sometimes has them, so just check around.

    Now, you can also designate a specific wall in your home to display their artwork. And you can frame your favorites or their favorites for a long-term exhibition or you can encourage your young artists’ pursuits with a rotating display.

    Now, you can simply use magnetic paint behind a standard wall color and then you can attach their masterpieces with those same magnetic frames or super-strong magnets. If you’ve got heavier work, I find that there’s a mid-range from about five and up – five to seven – where they’re gluing all sorts of pasta-y things to something, which tends to weigh a lot.

    TOM: Pasta-y things, yeah. Those are the pasta years.

    LESLIE: The pasta years. “No, Henry has just entered his pasta years. He’s very creative.”

    Now, there’s one other approach that you can do and that’s to install thin cables or even drapery rods. And then you can display their art with easy-access clips. Maybe you’ve seen this in the Pottery Barn; they do something similar with photo frames for a photo gallery. Well, you can do a homemade version for your kids’ art. This way, your home is going to stay neat and organized, which is super-important. And your budding artists are going to appreciate having an honored spot to display their latest masterpiece.

    What you do after that, that’s your own call. I’ve got some friends who simply put them in the recycling bin. I have a portfolio for my son and it’s sort of divvied up by the years and that’s what I’m doing now. I can’t say they might not end up in the recycling bin later; I don’t even want to say that. But you’ve got to have a system.

    TOM: And you know what? Part of that system could simply be scanning a lot of this artwork and saving it electronically.

    LESLIE: True. And storing it.

    TOM: And if they bring home things that are really big and bulky, like my kids used to go to Inventors School every year and they would bring home all these large things that they assembled together into an imaginary piece of new equipment that was a new invention. Take photos of that and save the photos and you can convince the kid to get rid of all of the other bulky stuff, which is impossible for you to keep around.

    Well, great advice. And coming up next week on The Money Pit, we’re going to try to deal out a little bit more of that when we talk about trees that block your view or hide your front door. Now, you might be tempted to want to chop those down but you know what? Transplanting trees is a great option and it’s not as hard as you think. We’re going to tell you how, on the next edition of The 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.


    (Copyright 2012 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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