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How to Clean Your Stove’s Vent Hood, Hanging Holiday Décor without Damaging Windows, Eco-Friendly Flooring Options and more

  • Transcript

    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: Standing by to help you with your home improvement project, perhaps your holiday home improvement project. You’ve got a little bit of time now before the next wave of guests arrive. Why not use a bit of that to spruce up your home and let us help? The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. We’d like to speak with you if you’re doing the project yourself or if you’re not. Because that sometimes is the smartest thing to do; sometimes, it makes more sense to hire a contractor. And we can help you by teaching you what the right questions are to ask, to make sure you get somebody good to get that project done at your house.

    Coming up this hour, it’s the busiest time of year for your kitchen. But with all that cooking, your home may start to smell less than inviting. To help, we’ve got some ideas on how you can keep your vent hood clean and working well so those holiday cooking odors won’t overwhelm your entire house.

    LESLIE: And when it comes time to deck those halls for the holidays, we want to make sure that you decorate without doing any damage. We’ve got the do’s and don’ts coming up.

    TOM: Plus, with all that holiday foot traffic, you might be tempted to consider revamping worn-out flooring in your home. Kevin O’Connor – our friend, the host of This Old House – will be here with tips on the latest, green flooring options.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a great way to get started on any home improvement project or even a holiday project. It’s a $100 gift card from Lowe’s, courtesy of AirStone.

    Now, AirStone is a cool, new product that helps you create the look of stone without the grouting or the heavy lifting.

    TOM: Going to out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s program. So pick up the phone, let’s get started. The number, again: 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Vicky in Louisiana is on the line with a shower-pressure issue, I would say. Tell us what’s going on, Vicky.

    VICKY: I have a shower and when I turn the handle all the way to the left, on hot, the pressure is fine. As I turn it to the right to get to the cold, it’s diminished. And when I get to the cold completely, it’s probably about 25 percent of what the hot is.

    LESLIE: Is it only on this fixture or does it happen at other showers or other sinks?

    VICKY: No, it’s just on that shower. Just that one shower.

    TOM: OK. Alright. And how old is the house, Vicky?

    VICKY: Ten years old.

    TOM: Oh, so it’s a fairly new house. Well, it sounds to me like there’s a problem with this – that shower diverter. Right. If it’s just happening on that one fixture, that rules out a problem – a bigger problem – with the plumbing pipes.

    VICKY: Mm-hmm. Fine.

    TOM: So, for whatever reason, that diverter is not working properly. It could be clogged or obstructed in some way and it probably has to be – and it would have to be repaired or replaced.

    VICKY: OK. So, is it something we can do at home or is the plumber going to have to go inside that wall to do that? The shower wall.

    TOM: You can replace the guts of it from the shower side without tearing it out. If you have to replace the whole thing, then you have to go into the wall. And if you have to go into the wall, the way it’s usually done is by accessing that shower wall from the back side, depending on how your house is built, if that happens to be against …

    VICKY: It’s in the bedroom.

    TOM: Yeah, if it happens to be against a closet or a bedroom or something like that, generally that’s a lot easier than having to go through tile or whatever the surface is of your shower stall.

    VICKY: Yeah, this is the acrylic – the one-piece shower.

    TOM: Yeah. So if it had to be replaced, you’d go – you’d do it from the back. But a plumber should be able to repair that.

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Sean in Ohio is on the line and needs some help with a moist basement. Tell us what’s going on.

    SEAN: Yes. My basement, I finally got the outside fixed. I heard you guys say if it’s a rain event, that’s usually drainage. So I got that done and now there’s some kind of ceramic – or some waterproofing on the walls and it is flaking off onto the floor.

    TOM: Oh, great.

    SEAN: And it’s been there – the house was built in the 70s and I was wondering a good way to clean that up or what I could put on the walls to re-waterproof it.

    TOM: OK. So, I think what you’re talking about are mineral-salt deposits. Is it sort of like a whitish, grayish, powdery substance?

    SEAN: Yeah, yeah. This is like it’s been spackled on, though.

    TOM: Oh. So somebody put something on the walls and it’s releasing and falling off the block?

    SEAN: Right.

    TOM: Hmm. OK. What do you plan to do with these walls?

    SEAN: I just want to just waterproof them again, get the mold off of them and clean them up.

    TOM: So, I don’t know that you have mold on the walls. It sounds to me like you’ve got some sort of a finish that’s separating. So, can you scrape it off? Will it release easily?

    SEAN: Yeah, yeah. I just didn’t know, being the 70s, whether it might have asbestos in it or is there a good – better way to clean it up?

    TOM: I would say not likely. Of course, you could have that tested, too. But if it’s coming off easily, I would remove it and if I put anything on the walls at all, it would simply be a damp-proofing material, like a Thompson’s WaterSeal.

    And remember, the purpose of that is not to waterproof your walls; it’s to slow down the evaporation of moisture from the soil outside into the walls and any mineral salts that will be drawn through because of that. You’re not going to waterproof simply by painting your walls; it just doesn’t happen that way. You waterproof by redirecting the water away from the house, which it sounds like you’ve already tackled on the outside.

    SEAN: Yeah. It took me about 15 years but I finally got it done.

    TOM: Yeah. If it scrapes off easily, I would continue to take the rest of it off. I’d clean it up, I’d put a couple of coats of damp-proofing paint on it and I’d call it a day.

    SEAN: Oh, OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

    You know, people tend to think, sometimes, that everything that’s black and dark is moldy and it’s not always the case, especially when you’re talking about concrete-block walls. The walls themselves don’t grow mold; it’s what’s attached to them that grows the mold. And those home test kits are notoriously inaccurate and they can be misleading.

    LESLIE: Well, there’s so many different kinds. I think you’re bound to get some sort of reading …

    TOM: And it’s normal to have mold in a house. You’re always going to have some level of mold. So it’s – as I said, it’s very misleading and really should only be used in the hands of a professional.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. We hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving and you know what? Now it’s official: the holiday season has begun. And we like to say it’s the ho-ho-home improvement season. So let us give you a hand with all of your holiday, end-of-year, home improvement chores. Whatever you are working on, we’re here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, deck the halls without damaging them. Tips on hanging holiday décor are next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Roxul, manufacturer of fire-resistant, water-repellent and sound-absorbent home insulation products. Keep your home efficient and comfortable this winter and all year long with Roxul ComfortBatt and Roxul Safe’n’Sound insulations. www.DIYWithRoxul.com. Roxul. That’s R-o-x-u-l.

    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 with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, you might just be the lucky listener whose name we draw out of The Money Pit hard hat and send along a $100 gift card to Lowe’s, that you can use to perhaps pick up a very new, cool product that they are introducing called AirStone.

    It’s an ultra-light, wall-covering system that can help you make a stone fireplace or maybe a feature wall a DIY project, because the stone pieces fit together perfectly. It’s available at most Lowe’s locations. The website is AirStone.com but if you call us right now, you could just win a $100 gift card to help you get started on that project or another one. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Leslie in Nebraska on the line who’s dealing with an oversized oak door. What happened? Did it grow?

    LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: What I did was – I live in a 100-year-old, German bungalow-style house.

    TOM: Nice.

    LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: And I changed the doors. It had been remodeled and it just had the flat, hollow-core doors in it. I changed them out for solid – for oak doors. And in one room, the door now – the hinges are in the very corner, as it were. But at the bottom, it meets and at the top, there’s about a ½-inch gap where we put wedges. So I’m wondering how to trim that out appropriately.

    The original doors had 1-by trim with the flat board on top so they butt against the board on the top. And I’m wondering what I can do to make this work.

    TOM: So, if I understand this correctly, you purchased a prehung door, you installed it into the old opening. In order to make it fit, you had to shim it in quite a bit. And as a result, now you have large gaps between the prehung and the old door opening. Is that correct?

    LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: Correct.

    TOM: Alright. So, you need a wider trim, obviously; that’s where you’re going to have to start with this.

    Now, the most traditional trim is clamshell – which is, I think, quite boring – 2½-inch or 2¼-inch wide, surrounds the door. A more interesting way to do this might be to trim it off with a two-piece trim. So what you could use is you could use a piece of baseboard molding as the first layer of trim. So this would give you a wide molding all around the door.

    And you could make this as wide as you have to. Baseboard molding is usually either 2½ inches or 3½ inches wide. So you treat – use that as casing, if that makes sense. And then on top of the outside edge of the baseboard, you can put corner molding. And so it becomes sort of – it’s outside corner mold, so it becomes stepped. So, the fluted part of the baseboard is against the hinge and then it steps up at the end with the outside corner molding. And this gives you sort of a two-tiered casement arrangement all around the entire door.

    This can be very, very attractive. I once did an entire house like this and it looked really good. Gives you a lot of dimension and it kind of brings you back to the day when all the moldings around doors were done in a really fancy way like this and gives that particular door a lot of personality.

    LESLIE IN NEBRASKA: Thank you so much for your help.

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

    LESLIE: So if you’re anything like me – you guys know me: I love to decorate the holidays. So that would mean that you love to decorate for the holidays. But keep this in mind: while you are decking those halls, there are a few things that you need to consider so that you don’t damage your vinyl windows.

    Now, when windows were made from just wood, we didn’t have this problem, because we had wood filler and other ways to fix pushpin and other hardware holes. But with today’s vinyl and vinyl-clad windows, you need to be really careful to balance being festive while being smart.

    Now, I know it’s easy to be so excited about the holidays that you forget to be smart but here’s some things to keep in mind. Never put nails, screws, staples or even glue into or on your window frame. Not only is it going to damage the window and decrease its energy efficiency, it could also invalidate your warranty. Also, don’t decorate with anything that will keep you from being able to actually open that window up.

    TOM: Now, the best way to adorn your windows is to simply use suction cups with hooks to hang lights, hang ornaments or wreaths. But another option is to use fasteners that feature removable adhesive strips. You can also use clear fishing line to loop the décor gently over the window hardware.

    Now, outside your home, you can use garland or wreaths by securing them to the siding and not the windows. By keeping your energy-efficient vinyl windows intact, you’ll also be keeping your window warranty intact. Because if you go ahead and poke holes in it, the warranty is no longer going to protect you in the event something goes wrong with that window.

    LESLIE: Now, when it comes to the look of your windows, especially with the chilly weather ahead, now is a great time to spruce them up a bit, too. Money Pit partner Pella Windows and Doors is featuring their 350 Series of vinyl windows and doors that are totally customizable, including a really large selection of between-the-glass options. They’ve got everything from blinds, shades, decorative panels and grilles. And that goes in between the two panes of glass, so you don’t have to clean it, you don’t have to worry about cords if it’s an operable shade. I mean it’s kind of slick and it keeps those windows looking really awesome.

    TOM: Yeah. And Pella’s 350 Window Series is one of the most energy-efficient vinyl window or patio doors you can actually buy. I think they’re 83-percent more efficient, so pretty impressive.

    If you’d like more details, you can visit them at Pella.com. That’s P-e-l-l-a.com.

    LESLIE: Rusty in Missouri needs some help with an addition going on at his money pit. How can we help you?

    RUSTY: We actually just moved into this modular home and we’re looking to possibly adding onto it. And I – we were just curious on – you know, are there any do’s or don’ts to that project, adding onto something like that? And then where can I go about to find any better ideas or any ways of going about that?

    TOM: Well, a modular home simply means that it was made in a factory and there’s nothing special about adding onto that. So you can go ahead and add the same way that you would add any addition.

    Now, the planning on this, though, is really important. Just with any project like this, you need to really start with an architect or a design pro to make sure that you lay it out properly and you think through all of the elements of it and you create a comprehensive list of specifications.

    Sometimes when the project is smaller, we tend to ignore this but it’s very important, we think, to have that list of specs. Because as you progress through this project, if the spec list is done, then all the contractors who come in will be bidding apples to apples; they won’t all be selling you different windows or different doors that make it very difficult for you to compare. If you have every item of the improvement laid out, with the manufacturer and the type of product and so on, it’ll be a lot easier for you to get this done and you can rest assured it will come out better, as well.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Elizabeth in Illinois on the line who’s dealing with a brick situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    ELIZABETH: I have a crack in my brick wall. It is about a ¼-inch wide and it goes from a window sill down to the sidewalk.

    TOM: Yeah. And that’s pretty typical. Around windows or around doors, that’s the weakest part of the wall. So if it’s ¼-inch wide, what I would do is I would seal it with caulk, because you want to stop the water from getting in there.

    Now, one of the options that you might want to think about is a new product from DAP called DAP 3.0. They have a clear caulk, so it’ll blend nicely with the brick. And it’s not like silicone that looks kind of gray and mucky; it looks really crystal-clear. And it’s easy to use because it dries in 30 minutes. So I would use a product like that. I would caulk it to keep the water out because if you don’t, what happens is the water gets in there. In the winter, it will freeze and expand and start to widen that and break down the brick.

    So caulk it and just accept it as normal wear and tear.

    ELIZABETH: OK. And that was DAP?

    TOM: DAP 3.0 it’s called, yep. DAP 3.0.

    ELIZABETH: Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’re going to Patricia in Oregon who’s working on a tool shed. How can we help you?

    PATRICIA: Well, the tool shed is – has been established and has been standing for probably 15 years and it’s in need of a new roof.

    TOM: Has it served you well as the home for many of your tools for projects all those years?

    PATRICIA: Yeah, it’s great. It works as a tack barn and a wood shed and a tool shed. And it’s definitely a good addition to the home and property.

    TOM: Alright. So we want to take care of it. So you’re looking at a roof for it.

    PATRICIA: Yeah. The reason I was calling is because I – in the Northwest here where we live, where it gets a lot of rain and problems with mold and that kind of thing, I see some of our neighbors have gone to these metal roofs. And I’ve heard that they’re quite expensive but I thought I would call and get your opinion as to whether or not it seems worth it.

    TOM: Well, if it’s a sturdy tool shed and one that’s going to be around for a long time, if you put a metal roof on it, it’s pretty much going to be the only roof you’ll ever need. I will say that the metal roofs have become a little less expensive over time. And because it’s a very small building, it certainly could be a do-it-yourself project.

    You could simply use a corrugated metal roof for that. There are dozens of corrugated patterns to choose from. It’s not terribly expensive – it will be more expensive than asphalt – but it’s going to be a roof that’s going to last the life of that building.

    PATRICIA: OK. Do you think it’s important for the – an outbuilding roof to match the roof of the home?

    TOM: Depends. Is it in the back of the house?

    PATRICIA: Yeah, it is but we’re kind of exposed all the way around. It’s in a rural area.

    TOM: It’s kind of a – it’s a décor question, I think, more than anything else or a style question more than anything else. But if – a lot of times, folks have sheds that totally mimic the look and the feel of the exteriors in their home. And if that’s something you’d like to do, then maybe you want to make them consistent. But from a structural perspective, I think the metal roof will give you many years of protection.

    PATRICIA: What about from an investment one? Do you think that’s a …?

    TOM: If it was on your house, I’d say that it would definitely be a valuable addition to your house. The fact that it’s on a tool shed, I don’t think we could necessarily prove that a metal roof on a tool shed over an asphalt roof on a tool shed has ever had any reflection on the value of a property.

    LESLIE: Right.

    PATRICIA: OK.

    TOM: I mean it certainly could make it more attractive if you have that kind of a buyer but I don’t necessarily think it will impact your home’s value one way or the other.

    PATRICIA: OK. Very good. Alright. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Patricia. 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, still to come, when you’re considering flooring options for your home, think green. No, not as in avocado. As in eco-friendly.

    TOM: We’ve got some ideas for flooring that rely less on depleting resources and more on adding value to your home, after this.

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

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and to find the perfect holiday gift, 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: And we invite you to enter the brand-new Santa’s Home Improvement Sweepstakes, which is launching this weekend on The Money Pit’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit. You could win one of several awesome prizes to help you get working on your DIY projects faster than Santa’s elves work in the toy shop. Just go to our Facebook page by logging on to MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Andrew in North Carolina on the line who’s dealing with shower-drain issues. What’s going on?

    ANDREW: When you take a shower, about a couple minutes after the water has been running, it’ll start to back up to some degree into the shower itself. And if you take a plunger and you use the plunger up and down, up and down maybe four or five times and you pull it up, all of a sudden, as the water starts to go out slowly, you’ll get a slurping noise. And then you get through taking a shower and it’s running out. But you can go back in and 20 minutes later and the same thing happens again.

    TOM: Right. So you know what that slurping noise is?

    ANDREW: No, sir.

    TOM: It’s your shower drain gasping for air. For some reason, that shower drain is not vented properly. So as the water drains out, you create sort of a suction and that’s what slows it down. And so I suspect with you using that plunger, you’re freeing up that suction and loosening up the water so it has a chance to grab enough air and go down.

    Was this shower added after the home was built, by any chance?

    ANDREW: No, sir. It’s been that way and – of course, the plumber said there was nothing wrong. I said, “Well, there has to be something wrong.”

    TOM: Yeah, if you’re getting a gurgling sound like that, you’re not getting enough air in it. And so it sounds to me like you probably need to add an additional vent. This is assuming that there’s no clog there.

    ANDREW: Right. Because we used – my wife has used Liquid-Plumr, I’ve used a plunger, the plunger, the plungers and it goes out. But then when you stop, the same thing happens again.

    TOM: Right. Well, I wouldn’t use the chemicals. What you could do is run a snake down that line and make sure it’s clear.

    ANDREW: Right.

    TOM: Just to make sure there’s no hair or any other kind of gunk that’s trapped in there. But generally, when you have a drain like that that’s gurgling, it’s looking for additional air. And it usually means that the vent is not there or the vent is obstructed and that’s what’s really going to be the source of this: making sure we have enough air in there.

    If you had to add additional vents to it, you know, depending on how easy or difficult it is to get to that line, it is possible.

    ANDREW: I appreciate your help and thank you, again.

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

    LESLIE: Well, are you in the market for a new floor? If you are, are you worried about choosing flooring that’s eco-friendly? Well, we’ve got some good news for you. There have never been more options for flooring materials that are also good for the planet.

    TOM: That’s right. And while no flooring product has zero impact, some materials are definitely better than others. Kevin O’Connor is the host of TV’s This Old House and he joins us now with some green options for your floors.

    Welcome, Kevin.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys.

    TOM: So what makes a flooring product very green? It’s not just a color we’re talking about here.

    KEVIN: Not just a color.

    Well, several things, I think, will classify it as green. Is it sustainable or is it renewable? Or does it have any toxic chemicals involved in the manufacturing process? These are all things to think about when you’re looking for a green floor.

    TOM: Let’s talk about the first point: being renewable. It means something like bamboo is incredibly renewable; grows fast and also makes a super-tough floor.

    KEVIN: Yeah, it’s funny. You see bamboo all over the place right now. A lot of people are scratching their heads. Why is that? Well, it does. It grows super-fast so that means that when you harvest it, it actually comes back very quickly. So the yield is very high in terms of how much material you can get out of an acre of land. It’s oftentimes harder than oak, it’s a good look and so it definitely goes into the renewable category.

    LESLIE: And I think previously with bamboo flooring, it had a very modern, stark look to it. You definitely saw the ends and the nodes of the bamboo themselves. Now, bamboo flooring really just looks like a beautiful hardwood, so there’s a lot of great options out there.

    KEVIN: I think we’re getting used to it. There are different ways to cut it. But mostly, it’s just because we’re accepting it more and we like looking at it. It’s a sharp look.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And another one that’s a really nice, renewable source is cork. And cork floors, super-durable, great for moist conditions and really looks fantastic.

    KEVIN: It feels pretty good underneath your feet, too, right, or if the kids are rolling around?

    LESLIE: It does.

    KEVIN: Cork, it comes from a tree and they actually cut it off around the tree. They don’t kill the tree, so it grows back. So that is a sustainable material, as well, and it’s a very distinctive look.

    TOM: It is. And in fact, this past summer, we were on vacation and got a chance to look at one of the most outstanding examples of American architecture: the Fallingwater House, built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Back in the early 1900s, he was using cork on the floors and cork on the walls of the bathroom.

    KEVIN: He was a visionary, wasn’t he?

    TOM: He certainly was. And you know what? The original cork is still in good shape today; it’s amazing.

    LESLIE: Now, Kevin, here’s one that’s surprising: linoleum. I wouldn’t necessarily think of that as a green flooring choice, nor something that’s modern.

    KEVIN: Well, I mean it’s been around for a long time. They make it the same way they’ve been making it for the last century. But it’s all made from natural materials. So, we’re talking about linseed oil, cork dust, wood flour, tree resins, ground limestone. And they’re all pressed onto a jute backing, so the materials are natural.

    But just because it’s been around for a long time doesn’t mean you can’t get a real sharp, modern look out of linoleum. There are tons of styles, tons of colors out there. And it fits into that green category.

    TOM: Good point. Now, recycled flooring is also very popular. Rubber flooring, for example, made from old tires and that sort of thing?

    KEVIN: Yeah. Made from old tires, rubber. Here’s my favorite recycled flooring: wood.

    TOM: There you go.

    KEVIN: Think about this. We did this on a project a couple years ago. We took the beams out of an old mill building. They were shipping off for disposal. We stopped them and we had them actually milled into flooring. And so, the wood has already been cut down; it was being used as beams for hundreds of years and now we’re using it for flooring. So we can reclaim a lot of these materials and put them down on our floors.

    TOM: And what’s nice about choosing a green floor, there really are very few trade-offs. They’re all durable floors. Most of them are reasonably green. But what about carpeting when it comes to that? Are there green choices in carpeting, as well?

    KEVIN: Well, generally, you want to look for natural fibers in your carpet, because that’s going to be a little bit more green. Things like wool or jute.

    But carpets used to have a really bad name – the synthetic ones – because they were made with lots of resins and glues. And they’ve cleaned up their act considerably. So just because it’s not natural fibers doesn’t mean you just can’t get one with recycled synthetic fibers and also ones that don’t have any toxins or off-gas.

    TOM: Great topic. Kevin O’Connor, the host of TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: Thank you for having me.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings and step-by-step videos on flooring and even articles and projects that you can tackle, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And This Old House and Ask This Old House are brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot, more saving, more doing.

    Up next, all those delicious cooking smells can transform your house into a warm, cozy place. But if you don’t keep your vent hood clean, well, some of those odors can stick around long after the holiday leftovers are gone. We’ve got those tips, coming up.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by TotalProtect Home Warranty. Get total protection against unexpected home repair or replacement costs for appliances, air conditioning, heating, plumbing and electrical. Visit BuyTotalProtect.com to see if you qualify for a special offer. That’s BuyTotalProtect.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: Hey, give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. This hour, we’re giving away a prize that can help you achieve the look and feel of a real stone wall without the need to hire a pro to do the work.

    It’s called AirStone and it’s an ultra-light wall covering. And what’s cool about it is that the individual stone pieces, they really fit together nicely, so there’s really no need for grouting. All you need is the adhesive and AirStone does the rest.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, this is really the only stone veneer that attaches directly to the wall but still gives you the look and feel of real stone. But no mason is required. And you can expect to pay up to about 80-percent less than you would for a real stone project. It’s also made from eco-friendly materials.

    And one lucky caller to the show this hour is going to win a $100 Lowe’s gift card and you can use that towards AirStone if you’re working on a project where that’ll work. Check it out at their website; it’s AirStone.com. And give us a call right now at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Steve in Iowa is on the line with a fireplace question. What are you working on?

    STEVE: We have a gas insert into a wall and then on the outside of the house, there’s a bump-out to accommodate it. And we’ve been getting a lot of – we get a lot of drafts in the winter through there. We don’t use it; I don’t think it’s – we just don’t use it. It just makes the room too hot.

    And so we shut it off but I’d like to – really like to insulate around there because I know, not only in the – I live in Iowa and not only is it hot in the summer, they lose a lot of air conditioning that way and then in the winter, get a lot of drafts in there, so …

    TOM: Steve, is this a gas fireplace? Are you talking about the wood chase that sort of covers it?

    STEVE: It’s a gas fireplace. That’s correct.

    TOM: OK. So, is this up off the ground or does it go all the way down to the ground?

    STEVE: It goes all the way down to the ground in back and then the foundation underneath it is bumped out, as well.

    TOM: OK. Because a lot of times, there’s gaps when these bump-out fireplace chases don’t actually touch the ground. But in this case, it’s in the ground, as well.

    So, your options are really limited here because it’s a zero-clearance fireplace and it can be against combustible material but there are rules about how much you can insulate it. So what I would do is I would get the name of the fireplace, I would jump online, I would get the installation instructions and I would determine how the fireplace was supposed to be installed into the chase, which is that structure. And then compare that to what you’re actually finding.

    They’re going to tell you in those instructions where exactly you can seal and insulate and how much insulation you can use. Because you don’t want to do it incorrectly, because it could become a fire hazard, either for you or for a future owner. Does that make sense?

    STEVE: Yes, it does.

    TOM: Well, if you’re like most people, one of your favorite memories from holidays past is the smell of food cooking and wafting through your house. But that cooking can quickly turn into a stinky mess when certain odors, like grease, are involved. The solution is to clean your stove’s vent hood. If you get this under control, you can really reduce the odors.

    These vent hoods can collect grease and bits of food that lead to odors long after the holiday meals are complete.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. To clean it properly, first of all you want to remove the filter and soak it in the sink. Now, you can use a degreaser or a vinegar solution to clean both the filter and the vent hood thoroughly before you put everything back together. You also want to try to have that hood vent to the outside whenever possible. If you’ve got a microwave above the range, make sure it comes with a vent that can be turned on when you need it.

    Now, you might want to consider replacing your current vent hood with something a little bit more stylish and functional. We’ve got all the options. Just search “vent hood” at MoneyPit.com.

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

    LESLIE: Jane in Pennsylvania is on the line and needs some help with a bathroom-heating project.

    JANE: Well, I have baseboard heat; it’s hot-water baseboard heat in the bathroom.

    LESLIE: OK.

    JANE: And the front cover is all rusting out.

    TOM: OK.

    JANE: And I cannot find a cover and right now, I have contact over it so you don’t see the rust.

    TOM: Oh. You can actually order covers for those baseboards. There is a company that sells perforated covers that go on top of them, so it won’t reduce the heat terribly much. I think it’s called – is it Baseboarder, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, their website is BaseboardHeaterCovers.com. And they sort of just go where – I guess they would replace that whole inset that’s sort of rusted away on you. You keep your end panels, this piece goes in. It’s a pretty easy do-it-yourself installation. You just have to make sure you measure them correctly.

    They’re not going to rust and because the entire piece is perforated, I think it’s going to help you get as much heat out of it as you can. And since yours is mostly covered by the commode anyway – they’re not gorgeous. They’re not terrible, I don’t think, but I mean it’ll do the job for you.

    JANE: Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, is your front door looking a bit weary and worn? We’ve got tips to take it from drab to fab, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron Sensors. Tired of reminding your family to turn off the lights? Install a Lutron Maestro Occupancy Sensor and you’ll never have to remind them again. It works with all bulb types and takes only about 15 minutes to install. For easy upgrades with big impact, choose Lutron. Visit ChooseLutron.com.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And this is the home of home solutions. We’re here to help you with your home improvement projects, your questions, your do-it-yourself dilemmas. For example, do your electric bills always spike this time of year? Here’s a solution: just go to our website at MoneyPit.com and search on energy-efficient holiday lighting. We’ve got the latest details on how you can cut those costs with energy-efficient lights, to make your house look very holiday-esque without spending a boatload of money.

    LESLIE: Yeah, especially if you’re the one that likes your home to be seen from space. Talking to you, neighbor.

    TOM: Yes, yes.

    LESLIE: You can do it. And you can still do it and be efficient at the same time.

    Alright. And while you’re online, you can post your question in the Community section. I’ve got one here from Debbie in Brooklyn who wrote: “I have a fiberglass exterior door, which was stained. I believe it was done improperly in the first place. It seems to be flaking or fading in spots and needs to be redone. Can it be stripped and restained or should I just paint it at this point? How do I do it?”

    TOM: Well, because it’s fiberglass, it’s very easy to strip and restain it, so that’s exactly what I would do. I would make sure that we take off all the old stain, right down to the original fiberglass, which is most likely going to be white. And then you can restain it.

    And here’s a tip: you know, the folks at Therma-Tru actually invented the fiberglass stain and it’s quite different than a wood stain, because it has less pigment in it and it does a better job of bringing out sort of the faux wood grain. So I might order one of those stain kits from ThermaTru.com and use that the next time around. They’ll give you the stain and the top coat – the clear coat – which kind of seals and locks the whole thing in place.

    Now, if it was a wood door, obviously it would be a heck of a lot harder. But because it’s fiberglass and the stain doesn’t really soak into it, I would just strip it down and do it again. It’ll come out beautiful.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it should last a long time, as well, Debbie. So it’s a project definitely well worth doing.

    Alright. Now, Donna in New Jersey posted: “We live in a six-room ranch house with 150-amp electrical service. There were not enough circuit breakers in the electrical box for the appliances we added over the years, so many of the circuit breakers were piggy-backed. We’re now considering redoing our kitchen and electricians recommended either adding a second box, keeping the 150-amp service, or doing a whole-new 200-amp system. What do you recommend?”

    TOM: Well, when you say “piggy-backed,” I think that’s what we call in the business, “double tap.” In other words, you’ve taken two wires and attached them both to the same breaker. That’s really not the way to go, because it actually – you will not get a really solid connection. You can get oxidation that builds up, it can overheat, so bad idea.

    Hundred-and-fifty amps, though, is plenty of power for the house you describe, so I think your electrician’s idea of putting in a sub-panel and moving everything to its own breaker makes a lot of sense. If you put the sub-panel in, you can divide up all of those double-tap circuits; everything will be on its individual breakers. You will have plenty of service there for your new kitchen and that’s definitely the way to go.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got one from Michael in Pennsylvania who wrote: “Is it necessary to remove the wood shingles before getting the house sided or can insulation and siding be put right over the old shingles? The house is 50 years old.”

    Oh, I’d take everything off.

    TOM: If you try to put all that extra material on top, think about your windows. They’re now going to be recessed deep into the cavernous layers of siding that you’ve put on top of all that.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what else? Your house is going to be all kind of puffy and think about it: we just applied for a variance to do a small addition to the house and I can’t even tell you how every inch matters when it comes to property lines. Adding all of those layers, you might suddenly become in violation of a property line. Don’t do it.

    TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Hope you’re having a great holiday thus far. More is coming up as we move towards the holidays that are at the end of the year. And if you are in a jam to get more projects done at your house before the next wave of guests arrive, remember you can reach out to us 24-7 at 888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we’ll call you back the next time we are. And you can also post your question online at MoneyPit.com.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    (theme song)

    END HOUR 1 TEXT

    (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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