How to Hang a Flat Screen TV, Super Bowl Entertaining, Back Up Power Generator 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 I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Here to help you with your home improvement questions, help to solve the do-it-yourself dilemmas; here to give you some inspiration, some ideas and some support to get those projects done around the house.

    You know, it’s almost time for the big game right now, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. I always have a nice party and it makes it a lot of fun to watch the game on a super-giant TV.

    TOM: Well, it’s funny you mention that because there are thousands who flood big-box stores this time of year for that last-minute purchase of the super-giant TV.

    LESLIE: I’m sure.

    TOM: But that is, in fact, the easy part. The hard part is getting it home and hanging it on the wall. We’re going to help you do that on today’s show, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And of course, that means without dropping it on the floor and breaking it into a thousand pieces.

    TOM: Right. Without causing damage or physical injury.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, if you happen to be having a few friends over for a Super Bowl party, we’ve got some great ideas for home-entertaining gadgets that will make for a very fun evening.

    TOM: And the last thing you want to deal with on Super Bowl Sunday, especially if the game is really tight and it’s getting down to the last quarter and there’s a big play, is to have the power go out. That would really make you very unpopular with all of your pals.

    LESLIE: All of your guests.

    TOM: So, the solution is to make sure your power is backed up. The way to do that is with either a portable or a standby generator. We’re going to have some tips on how you can get that job done, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a great prize. We’ve got an under-rug warmer from Warmly Yours. It’s worth 200 bucks and it’s a great way to sort of add temporary, radiant heat to your cold winter floors. I love this idea.

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

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Andrew in Texas is on the line and has some questions about home warranty policies. What can we do for you?

    ANDREW: My big question was whether or not you think that home warranty policies are worth the money.

    TOM: Generally not. They’re only worth the money if you don’t pay for them, like if you get one when you buy a house.

    ANDREW: OK. But like trying to cover your house for those major appliances and things as across the year …

    TOM: We hear many, many complaints about home warranties and it seems, just like any kind of insurance-like product, it’s very hard to claim – to get a claim processed on that. They tend to repair rather than replace, they tend to look for ways to exclude things that are of a certain age and so on. I think that the home warranties today are essentially a marketing tool to help sell your house, especially if you’re selling an older house. It’s kind of just a nice thing that can be put on by the real estate agent or by the home seller.

    But in terms of a way to maintain and manage the expensive repair, not so much. Much rather see you take that money and start your own home repair fund. I think that you’ll end up coming out way ahead if you do that.

    ANDREW: Alright. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Doris in Texas is calling in with a flooring situation. What can we do for you?

    DORIS: Well, I have carpet and dogs have been in the room and it smells bad and I can’t get the odor out. What would be a good thing to use to get the odor out of the carpet?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. When it comes to dealing with pet odor, the important thing to remember is that the reason why you have that odor is that it’s a bacterial sort of remnant that remains, whether it’s from just a wet dog or perhaps an accident. But there are some products out there that are made with almost like a living enzyme that attack that bacteria and get rid of that odor.

    And a really good one is a kit and it’s called the 1-2-3 ODOR FREE Kit. And it’s from a professional cleaning company. They started this business for homeowners to deal with pet odor and the website is, except Rite is So

    You’ll get the kit; follow the directions exactly. It’s sort of a step-by-step. You have to inject one thing into the carpet pad and then put a wet towel. It’s kind of a five-step process but it really works. We used it when we first got our dog and she wasn’t housebroken and she had some accidents in the carpeting and it’s gone. You would never know that anything ever happened.

    DORIS: OK. I’ll try that.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good luck with that.

    DORIS: Oh, thank you.

    TOM: Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Barry in North Carolina is on the line with a water-heater question. Tell us about how it was installed.

    BARRY: Water heater was installed in the attic over the garage.

    TOM: OK.

    BARRY: This is an unheated, open-air space and I know this is not a good place for it.

    TOM: Right. Well, why do you say it’s not a good place? Because it’s an unheated space? That’s not really unusual but go ahead.

    BARRY: It’s not really unusual?

    TOM: No. Is it electric water heater or is it gas?

    BARRY: It’s gas-fired.

    TOM: OK. So, it can be in the garage and many times, gas water heaters are, in fact, in the garage. There is something specific, though, about the position of a gas water heater in a garage and that is this: the flame – the pilot light – has to be at least 12 inches off of the floor of the garage. And the reason for that is because garage – I mean gasoline fumes are actually heavier than air, so you never want to, in a garage, have the chance that gasoline fumes will waft up, so to speak, and contact the flame.

    So, it’s important that the water heater be 12 to 18 inches off of the garage floor. Being up in the roof rafters is perfectly fine, so I see absolutely no reason for you to move this unless, of course, you’re doing some other construction around it.

    What you could do is add a water-heater jacket – an insulating jacket – and you would put that only around the outside surfaces …

    BARRY: I have an insulating jacket on it now.

    TOM: You do. OK. Well then I think you’re good to go. I really see no reason for you to go ahead and move this.

    BARRY: Alright. Well, I appreciate your input.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Barry. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. Hope we’ve saved you some money on that project. I’m sure there’s other projects in your house you want to do so put the funds there, OK?

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Now, you can be a part of the fun. Pick up the phone and give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with your home repair, home improvement, home décor, home winterization because you’re freezing and it’s minus-20 below. Give us a call. We’ll help you get your home improvement project done right the first time, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Also call us if you’re getting ready for the big Super Bowl party. Perhaps you started that prep at the electronics store, picking up a brand-spanking new, big, honking, flat-screen TV. And now, though, you need to hang it. You don’t know what to do? Well, we’re going to tell you exactly what to do to make sure it gets up right, safe and doesn’t come crashing down with the first tackle of the game. We’re going to have all of that, next.

    (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. And the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Now, one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win, I think, a really great prize, because we’ve got a rug warmer from Warmly Yours worth $199. You don’t need to do anything fancy to install it; you just plug it in.

    And it’s a ¼-inch-thick mat and basically, you put it under your rug and then you put your nice, winter bare feet on top of this rug and your feet are instantly warm and tootsie-lovely. I love this idea. If I had one under my desk, I would be super-duper happy all the time. So give us a call for your chance to win, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    So you finally got the new, flat-screen TV and just in time for the big game, as well. But now, how are you going to get it up on the wall? If you don’t do it right, that flat screen is going to fall flat on the ground. That would not be good.

    Now, most flat-screen TVs don’t come with the mounting brackets so, most likely, you’re going to be shopping for one. And that’s a good thing, because you can choose the TV bracket that best suits your needs.

    Check the owner’s manual first, because your particular flat-screen television might need a certain type of bracket. And when you choose your bracket, you can go with a flat wall mount, a tilting mount or an articulating mount. Now, flat will hang your TV like a painting. Tilting, of course, allows it to tilt up or down and that’s a good idea if your TV is going to be a little higher than eye level. And of course, articulating – the fanciest one – can also turn from side to side.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it’s amazing how many options there are out there for mounts. So really shop around. There’s some great prices, there’s some great options. But you also want to make sure that you know how much your TV weighs – that’s a really good thing to know – and you want to look for a bracket that is VESA-compatible. Now, VESA is the Video Electronics Standards Association and they set the standards for flat-screen, TV-mounting brackets.

    Also, when you’re thinking about where you’re going to put this TV, make sure that you choose a good location; one without a lot of glare that’s also going to be near a lot of outlets, because you’re going to have a ton of things to plug in. And make sure that you find the studs and make sure that you drill into at least two wall studs when you’re hanging your flat-screen TV. And don’t attempt to hang a flat-screen TV into drywall or paneling alone. You need mounting brackets, you need all sorts of anchor systems, so make sure that you do this correctly.

    If you want some more detailed, step-by-step instructions so you don’t suddenly break a beautiful, expensive, flat-screen TV, head on over to and we’ll help you out there.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Let’s get back to the phones.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Don in South Carolina has an issue with a shower door. Tell us what’s going on.

    DON: I have two shower enclosures that were installed in a new house about three years ago. And both doors are sagging and it was installed as one unit. The door was already in the unit; it wasn’t separate. And I don’t see anything to adjust them. They’re very hard to close and very easy to open. Does that make any sense?

    TOM: They’re hard to close and easy to open. Hmm.

    DON: Yeah.

    TOM: So, do they seem to be out-of-square?

    LESLIE: Sounds like it.

    DON: It seems like one end is a little lower than the other; the end that closes is a little lower.

    TOM: Right. Well, if there’s – if you don’t see any place to raise or lower the gliders, then typically, the track that they ride on has to be raised or lowered. So it’s that, in effect, is what impacts them.

    And when you say it’s sagging, do you mean that when the door slides over, it strikes against the jam, so to speak, unevenly?

    DON: It doesn’t actually hit it; it comes up against it and then it’s very hard. It sticks at the bottom.

    TOM: Sticks at the bottom.

    DON: It doesn’t seem to be hitting anything.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Can you take the door off the track and look underneath it and see if there’s anything that’s jammed up in there?

    DON: Well, that’s – the problem was – I think it’s just one unit. The doors – the whole unit was delivered and the door …

    TOM: Typically, those doors are removable, though. Typically, they come off from the top. You push them up and lift them out.

    DON: Oh, OK. OK.

    TOM: I think you should take the door out and take a look underneath. I mean for all you know, there could be some packing material or something like that, OK?

    DON: Uh-huh. OK.

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

    LESLIE: Mary in California needs some help with a deck project. What can we do for you?

    MARY: Yes, we’re having a problem trying to figure out what to do to remove paint from the redwood decking, so we have a big deck in front and back. And we don’t know – my husband doesn’t know what to use to get it off and he doesn’t know what to put on the redwood to make it look nice.

    TOM: Well, Mary, the good news is that you’ve got redwood there as the deck material. Redwood is fantastic because it lasts forever; it’s naturally decay and disease resistant.

    Now, the unfortunate thing is that it was painted. So the first thing we’re going to have to do is get rid of that paint and the only way to do that is going to be with a paint stripper. But once you get that down, then I think this deck would look fantastic if you were to stain it.

    MARY: Do you have any product for the stripping of it?

    LESLIE: Alright. Mary, now what I would do is once you’ve got all of that paint off, I would use a good wood cleaner just to try to, you know, get rid of anything that’s left behind.

    Now, you mentioned a company. A great one out there is Flood. Their website is And I would start first with their wood stripper; that’s going to get rid of anything that’s left behind – all the dirts, all the remnants – and it’s really going to get you to a good, clean basis for that redwood to accept stain.

    Now, depending on what your wood condition is, I would probably go with a solid-color stain unless, for some reason, that graining and all of those planks are in fantastic condition; then you could do semi-transparent. Otherwise, I’d go with a solid-color stain. Flood makes a great collection of colors and the product name is SWF-Solid stain. Now, you’re going to get 15 years on your vertical surfaces and 5 years on your horizontal surfaces, so it’s really going to last a long time.

    And the benefit of stain over paint is that instead of sitting on top of the wood like a paint would, stain’s actually going to be saturated into the wood surface itself, so it’s going to last a long time. And there’s great color choices, so you’d be really happy with it.

    TOM: And that website also has great step-by-step advice on how to do all of these tasks. Again, that was Check out their Finishing Guide while you’re on that website.

    Mary, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: James in Pennsylvania is on the line with a heating question. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    JAMES: I’ve got an apartment building. It was built in 1926 and it has steam heat and it’s so hot in here you have to run fans in the window. Is there any way I can regulate that heat?

    TOM: Yeah, you would think that there is – are their valves on your steam radiators?

    JAMES: No, they’re not there no more because they’re so old.

    TOM: Ah. Well, that’s your control point right there. If you don’t have valves, then you can’t really turn them off and it’s incredibly inefficient to have to open the windows. And we see this so often in those old apartment buildings. The only thing that can be done is to have those valves fixed or replaced so that they can actually – you can actually control the steam.

    But other than that, I don’t have a good solution for you.

    LESLIE: Is that not a part you can’t just pick up at a hardware store?

    TOM: No. It’s a big plumbing job.

    LESLIE: Oh, to have the key on the valve?

    TOM: Not the key on the valve; the actual valve itself he says is sort of gone or painted shut or whatever.

    LESLIE: Oh, good Lord. You should probably call your landlord.

    TOM: Yeah.

    JAMES: Thank you. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Ben in North Carolina is in the market for some real estate. How can we help you with that purchase?

    BEN: Yeah, I’m looking at buying about 30 acres to put a five-bedroom house on. In the past, the property has had difficulty perking and I know that the neighbor had to spend about $17,000 to put in a special septic system. Do you have any advice on property or about the septic systems that could help me in my decision to buy the property or not?

    TOM: Have you reviewed – you said there was a house there before. Have you reviewed the Building Department file?

    BEN: Well, the house is on the property next to it and they’ve had difficulty perking.

    TOM: OK. But have you reviewed that file? Because building permit files and all of those tests and so on is usually part of the public record. And if you go review that, you may have a pretty good idea as to what you’ll be up against and then you could get some costs based on what it might cost to – estimates based on what it might cost to actually do a system on your yard; on your house. And then you could plug that number into the cost-value analysis of the price of the property. And in fact, you may even use that as a negotiation point.

    BEN: OK.

    TOM: I mean it’s almost like your neighbor did the work for you; that’s what I’m saying.

    BEN: Right. I know that the property I’m looking at is going to have issues because it’s right next to it and it was just one of my major concerns about it and I know that there’s different types of septic systems that can – like above-ground septics or ones that pump it to different locations.

    TOM: Right. And you could probably get some rough estimates on what the costs of those systems might be and again, if you talk to the health official in the town, they’ll tell you what they’ll approve, because you’re not the first guy that’s probably had to put a system like this in that area.

    BEN: Alright. Well, thank you very much for your advice.

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

    Ben, trying to avoid a money pit situation there in North Carolina.

    LESLIE: Mike in New York needs some help with a steel door. Tell us about your project.

    MIKE: Hi. My project is I’ve got a brand new, stainless-steel door. The only reason – because it was for the tax credit and everything. But we got some cats and dogs. They’re little, old ankle-biters and they keep scratching the door, so what I installed is a kick plate. But the kick plate I wanted – they only sell the ones that go at the bottom – but I wanted one to go up the side but all one piece. So what I had – I had a steelwork factory make me an L-shaped kind of kick plate.

    TOM: OK.

    MIKE: But when I (audio gap) one that had like a whole bunch of oil and whatever they used; they know – cuts, burn marks and everything. But there’s some oil on it and I just want to clean it up so it looks nice and shiny, like it was made on the door. And I was wondering, what special cleaning solution can I use to clean that stainless-steel plate up with?

    LESLIE: You know, I have stainless appliances and I have a stainless-steel sink and I’ve used -you don’t want to use anything harsh on it. And you also want to make sure that when you clean the stainless, you’ll notice that there’s a grain on the stainless steel, similar to a wood grain might be.

    MIKE: OK.

    LESLIE: And when you clean the stainless, you want to make sure that you do your cleaning or your rubbing, I should say, in the direction of those polish lines; that’s what that grain is. When they polish up that steel, you end up with these very linear markings on it. So you want to make sure that you polish or clean in the same direction of those marks.

    And then I’ve used either store-bought stainless cleaner or you can just use a mild dishwashing detergent, water and a clean, dry cloth.

    MIKE: Alright. That sounds good.

    LESLIE: You don’t want to get too fancy with it.

    MIKE: Yeah, right. I just didn’t want to hurt it or – I didn’t know if there was any special way.

    TOM: Yeah, just keep it simple.

    MIKE: Alrighty. Thank you, guys.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Up next, we know you’ve got backup plans for everything in your life but how about a backup plan for your home’s power? We’re going to tell you why having a backup generator is becoming more of a necessity and less of a luxury, so stick around.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Thinking about getting a snow blower? Check out’s interactive buying guides, recommendations and customer reviews. Snow blower experts are available to help you pick the perfect snow blower. Visit

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Well, this time of year, ice storms, blizzards, even a bad snow storm can knock power out in your area. But you don’t have to get left in the dark or the cold. It might be a good time to think about installing a backup generator at your money pit.

    TOM: That’s right. Millions of Americans already have backup power in their homes. In fact, we’ve got a backup generator here at The Money Pit studios, as well as at my own house. And we chose a generator by Generac. Jake Thomas is the residential product manager for Generac and we welcome him to the program right now.

    Hi, Jake.

    JAKE: Hey, Tom. Hey, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Hi.

    TOM: It’s been another nasty, nasty winter thus far. And looking at some of the stats from last year, it’s not very promising. Between January and March of 2010, there were nearly 900 power outages across the country affecting more than 6 million people.

    And I think we think of power outages as always being triggered by immense storms but the fact of the matter is that these are not immense, major natural disasters; these are simply strong storms or snow and ice accumulations. So, you don’t need to have a super, major weather event to knock your power out, do you?

    JAKE: Oh, absolutely not. Any of those factors can contribute to it. It could be ice laying down power lines, a tree that’s going over that takes some power lines out. Any number of things can factor into losing power and it’s never a convenient thing, especially when it’s so cold.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, in a pinch, I mean with this winter weather, it might not be that conducive to having a standby installed. Is it acceptable to sort of go with a portable, in a pinch, during a winter storm?

    JAKE: That’s what a lot of people end up doing, Leslie. They start with a portable because they have to get something and it’s – as long as they’re using it in a safe manner, it’s absolutely fine. But every year, you end up having people that die because of carbon-monoxide poisoning or there is always the hazard of a fuel spillage or fire or something. So, in a pinch, it absolutely can work but down the road, when conditions are a little bit more conducive, an automatic, standby generator is absolutely the way to go.

    TOM: So let’s talk about the basics. If you have access to a portable generator and you do have a power failure, first challenge is getting the generator out from its storage position, getting it into a safe place to start it up and of course, that should be outside and not even in anything that’s enclosed, like an open garage.

    But the most practical matter is how do we get the power in from that generator, to the house? Do we just have to kind of wire together a series of extension cords and how many is too many?

    JAKE: Getting it out of storage is kind of a trick and hopefully you have fuel stabilized so you don’t have gelling and that it actually will start for you.

    TOM: Now that’s a good point because fuel only lasts about 30 days before it goes bad, so you really do need to think about this well ahead of time and get that fuel and get that fuel stabilizer so you do, in fact, have a functioning, fresh tank of fuel when you need the generator to perform.

    JAKE: Absolutely. And as far as getting the power inside the home, any number of methods will work. A lot of people will just run extension cords all the way to the various appliances that they want to power up. Other times, if they’re a little bit more prepared, they’ll actually wire in a manual transfer switch so that that way it’ll back up selected circuits directly.

    Now, you don’t want to go too far away from the house with a thinner cord because you could have some voltage drop, which could result in some less-than-clean power getting to the appliances. But as long as the generator is at least 5 feet away from any air intake to the house, that’s typically a good rule of thumb. You never want to run it inside; you never want to run it in a garage.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And 5 feet, that even includes your – a window or an open window, whether you’d crack it or not during this cool weather. But just as a precaution, not even less than 5 feet ever, correct?

    JAKE: That is correct. And what people will do is they want to get the electricity inside the home, as you stated, so sometimes they’ll open a window and run a cord from the portable inside, not thinking that the portable generator’s running right next to their window dumping CO into the house, potentially.

    TOM: We’re talking to Jake Thomas. He’s a residential product manager for Generac.

    Now, Jake, we are running here a Generac standby generator. When we purchased our generator several years ago, their prices were a bit higher than they are today. I’m really amazed with how affordable these standbys have become and how accessible they are. What’s sort of the starting lineup for a standby generator these days?

    JAKE: Well, that’s actually a very good point. A lot of people still think these are very, very expensive machines but they’re actually very, very reasonable. Some of the most basic systems – for example, our core power system – it’s 7kW on LP; 6kW on natural gas. The retail price on that, with a 50-amp transfer switch, is 1,799.

    TOM: Wow.

    JAKE: That’s about what you would pay for a larger portable.

    TOM: So well under $2,000, you can be totally protected. And of course, these don’t run on gasoline; they run on natural gas or propane which, of course, would not be affected by power failures. I think that many folks forget that if you don’t have fuel stored and sort of saved up in the quantity that you need, you have to run to the corner gas station and pick it up and …

    LESLIE: And you might not be able to get it.

    TOM: And yeah, no power means no pumps – the gas pumps are not going to work, either.

    JAKE: Absolutely. Since it’s operating off of natural gas or LP, it’s going to be running off of the home’s normal fuel source. Getting additional fuel for portable generators in a power outage can prove challenging because unless the gas station has a backup generator, you are out of luck.

    TOM: Great tips. If you’d like more information, Generac has a great website set up to help you prepare for those bad weather situations. is the URL;

    Jake Thomas, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great tips.

    JAKE: Thanks for having me on, guys.

    LESLIE: Well, still to come, we’ve got the word on a few gadgets for entertaining that will make your parties more fun, so stick around.

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    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. And the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Now, one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a rug warmer from Warmly Yours. It’s worth about 200 bucks. You don’t need any installation and it’s basically like radiant heat for your little tootsies, under any area rug that you kind of want to have warmer feet on in your entire house.

    It’s really great; it’s a super-cool prize. You need to check out to see exactly what this is that’s up for grabs. Or you can give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for your answer and your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, are you getting ready to host a crowd for this year’s biggest, televised sporting event? We are, of course, talking about the Super Bowl. We’ve got some super-fun ideas to make that day enjoyable.

    First, forget lugging bags of ice back from the store. You want to pick up a portable ice maker instead. We found one for our house that dispenses ice by the glass and it can make 26 pounds of ice within a 24-hour period, which is just about enough to get through the party.

    LESLIE: Man, that’s a ton of ice. You also want to make sure that you keep your kids entertained and out of your hair, with a good, old-fashioned, movie theater-style popcorn popper. These are so much fun and not only do the kids get a kick out of watching the kernels pop safely inside the popper but all of that munching is going to keep them quiet during the big game, at least for a couple of minutes.

    TOM: That’s right. And halftime munchies are also so much easier to serve when you go buffet-style. Hot serving trays and heat lamps are growing in popularity for domestic use and are available to consumers at very, very manageable prices.

    Some serving trays, for example, are even cordless now, which allows your guests to circle to your dining room table without even tripping over a cord. Do you realize you could have a cordless warming tray and serve those hors d’oeuvres in the back of your pickup truck, at the real game?

    LESLIE: I know. It’s amazing. You can also drive, I think, a cooler to the game with all of your beer in it and then sit on it and have your beer and drive the cooler back home. It’s kind of crazy.

    And finally, did you know that you can actually turn your home into Margaritaville, with a frozen cocktail-making machine? This is awesome and totally right up my alley. Now, these specialty blenders make perfect margaritas, daiquiris and pretty much any other frozen beverage, by shaving ice and then blending that tasty cocktail to perfection.

    Any of these gadgets are really going to make for Super Bowl fun and you’re going to have a great time entertaining all of your friends and family. And if you invest in some of these appliances, you might bring some more joy to all of your parties year-round.

    TOM: To learn more about these kinds of gadgets and more, just search “gadgets or guests” at We’ve got a great story all about it right there, including links through to where you can find these various products.

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, maybe you’ve got something going on in your bathroom that needs fixing, just like Glenda in Kansas.

    Glenda, are you the Good Witch? What’s going on?

    GLENDA: Yes, I’m the Good Witch.

    TOM: How can we help you, Glenda?

    GLENDA: I was wanting to know how to get rid of the mold in the bathroom, on the walls where we’re tearing the tile out, replacing it with Formica?

    TOM: OK. You’re tearing the tile out and replacing it with Formica?

    GLENDA: Yeah. It’s an old tile; it was an old house.

    TOM: OK.

    GLENDA: And it’s got a lot of mold and stuff behind it and it has insulation back there.

    LESLIE: Now, this is a wall surface that you want to put Formica up on? Is this an area that gets wet a lot? Like is it in your shower?

    TOM: Yeah, because Formica’s typically not a material that you’re going to use on a bath-and-shower surface; it’s more of a countertop surface. So, there are other …

    GLENDA: OK. What is the vinyl? Is it vinyl or what is it?

    TOM: Well, there’s different things. There are vinyl enclosures, yes. There are tub enclosures, tub-and-shower enclosures.

    LESLIE: There’s solid-surfacing options.

    TOM: Yep. And there’s solid surfaces, too, like a Corian option. So there are a number of options.

    LESLIE: And of course, you could tile again.

    GLENDA: Yeah.

    LESLIE: But Formica is not something you want, because that’s basically a particle-board base within another natural fiber that’s pressed together to create this laminate surface. And if you get that wet consistently, with a ton of water from a shower or in a bath, splashing up, it’s going to completely deteriorate and you’re going to end up with way more mold back there.

    TOM: That would be bad.


    LESLIE: And the bath surrounds, Glenda, that are made by the solid-surfacing companies, like Corian or CaesarStone or Silestone, I mean they’re beautiful.

    TOM: Silestone, yeah.

    LESLIE: They come in a variety of looks that can look like any type of marble, granite, stone, with specks and glints of color and sparkle that – they’re beautiful and they’re not as expensive as going with something that’s like a natural stone. But they’re certainly more expensive than a tile.

    GLENDA: OK. That sounds good to me. It helped me out a lot and I thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome, Glenda. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Calling in with a window question, we’ve got Dennis from South Carolina. Welcome.

    DENNIS: Hi. My question is I have a townhouse and I’d like to put hurricane-rated windows on the upstairs, where I can’t get to put my steel shutters.

    TOM: OK.

    DENNIS: And I’d like to know if the glass can be replaced without putting in the window frame or you need to put a whole new window in. I didn’t know if it was anything like that. And what does the DP-50 rating mean? Is that good enough for a two or three category?

    TOM: Good question. OK, first things first. You can’t just replace the window glass, because it’s really a whole, structural unit. And the glass has to be impact-resistant, shatterproof and all of that. And DP-50 is the rating for the durability of the glass and a DP-50 glass is going to qualify for the Miami-Dade code, which is considered to be the toughest in the country.

    LESLIE: Right. And it’s up to 173 miles per hour.

    TOM: Yeah.

    DENNIS: Oh, that’s good. Because I’ve seen them advertised here that that’s the rating that they use and I think I want to do that, yeah.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s what you need. That’s what you need but you’re going to have to replace the entire window.


    TOM: They’re pretty expensive but they do stand up.

    DENNIS: Yeah, yeah. I know.

    TOM: Listen, on our website, we’ve got a free downloaded – downloadable chapter from our book, My Home, My Money Pit. It’s called “Your Complete Replacement Window Guide.” And right now, it’s linked off the home page, so you might want to check that out, download it and just read through that. It’ll give you a lot of the sort of Replacement Window 101 background information that you need. It also talks about what is required to qualify for the energy tax credit.

    DENNIS: OK. That’s good. That’ll give me some information when I’m going into the store, so I’ll have some background.

    TOM: That’s right. Alright.

    DENNIS: Alright. Thanks a lot.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at Up next, are your feet feeling the chill? I know mine always seem to be.

    Well, it might be that insulating your floors will actually do the trick to stop those chilly feet. We’re going to show 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. And you can post your questions, if you’re having a hard time figuring out what you need to do around your money pit, in the Community section on

    And I’ve got one here from Bohmer who writes: “I live in Cincinnati. I have a vented crawlspace with a dirt floor, with plastic over it but no insulation. I believe I need to add insulation in between the floor joists. Do I use insulation with a vapor barrier or without? And if I use a vapor barrier, which side should it face?”

    TOM: And that is an excellent question, because it can be very confusing. The bottom line is that vapor barriers always go towards the heated space, which would be the underside of the floor. However, in this case, you know, it’s very hard to get a vapor barrier in thoroughly enough to actually stop the vapor.

    So I would go with unfaced, fiberglass batts. I’d press them up in between the floor joists, I’d support them with insulation hangers and then I would have my vapor barrier, of course, across the crawlspace floor; maintain it in that position. That will keep the moisture at the minimum and that insulation will make a huge difference on keeping your floor warm in the winter.

    LESLIE: And Tom, now that you’ve put this insulation into the crawlspace, what do you need to do to properly ventilate, to keep that moisture down?

    TOM: Hey, that’s a good question. It’s important to have crawlspace ventilation and you want it wide open about nine months of the year. You want to put crawlspace vents on opposite sides of the walls and typically, they’re the same size as a concrete block, so they’re 8x8x16.

    So if you have like two on each wall and you keep them wide open in all but the very coldest months, you’ll have plenty of place for dry air to get in there and vent out that moisture.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And then that’ll keep that insulation nice and dry. This way, your feet will truly feel the benefit of that insulation that you add and you’ll probably see a nice reduction in your heating bills, as well.

    TOM: Well, as you get caught up in the routines of the new year, don’t forget the four-legged members of the family. This time of year is very harsh for them, as well, but you can take a few extra steps to keep them safe and comfortable. Leslie has the details on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. There are things that you do this time of year that you might not even realize put your pet in danger. First of all, you want to keep your dogs and cats away from antifreeze. Cats and dogs are actually attracted to the sweet smell and taste of antifreeze but it is deadly, even in small amounts.

    Also, you want to try to limit their exposure to the cold. Dogs and cats can grow a thicker coat in the winter, unless you’ve just shaved yours off your dog like I did, because it was all matted and now poor Daisy wears a sweater.

    But if your pet spends most of the time indoors, it might not have had a chance to develop that thicker coat that it really does need to stay warm and toasty outside. So you want to let your pet develop a tolerance to the cold slowly, by limiting outdoor time at the beginning of the season. And smaller dogs or dogs with short hair, like poor Doodlebugs right now, may actually need a doggie coat or even a blanket.

    Now, if you notice that your dog is lifting its paws and whining while you’re out for your morning walk, remember that the pavement might be making its paws feel uncomfortably cold. And many companies right now sell dog boots in various sizes and styles. It is a comic routine, if you have ever seen a dog wear a pair of shoes and not like it; it is just hilarious. Some dogs love them; other dogs cannot figure out why their feet are not touching the floor and just keep lifting them. It’s a laugh riot.

    Now, dogs with boots, that really is helpful because it prevents their paws from getting irritated from the salt and the sand. And you need to think about that, because it’s slippy-slidey outside for a lot of us in this country and a lot of those deicers are not safe for dogs or kids or even the floor. So really make some smart choices and go for pet-safe deicers. You can find them in pet stores and they’re a great way to protect sensitive paws from corrosive chemicals.

    And finally, move your pet’s bed away from drafts so that they can spend their snuggle time being cozy and warm.

    TOM: And cozy and warm is exactly how we want to feel, as well. However, we don’t want to spend an arm and a leg getting there. That’s why next week on the program, you could very well be sitting on a solution to rising heating costs. We’re going to tell you all about geothermal heat pumps and how this technology could actually cut your energy bills for life. We’re going to have some details, 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.

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2011 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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