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    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. We are standing by to help you tackle your home improvement project but you should help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Well, the big game is upon us; Super Bowl XLVI is just about to begin. And unless you’re lucky enough to make it to Indianapolis, the best way to see the action is with a beautiful, big, flat-screen TV, which I think is far cheaper than the cost of Super Bowl tickets. So if you need to make that argument to your spouse, you could sort of do the math and it could work out for you.

    LESLIE: I would say so.

    TOM: But if you do convince her or him that a flat-screen is a must-have for the big game, this hour we’re going to have some installation tips to help make sure that you can mount it securely and be sure to hide the wires just in time for the big, required Super Bowl party.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Now, if you live in a colder climate, you probably know one of those ugly sides of ice and snow: that’s when it freezes you into your home. This hour, we’re going to have tips to help you free up frozen, stuck doors and more.

    TOM: And you might love your vinyl siding because of how durable it is but it’s not infallible. And with winter winds, it can become quickly loose, so we’re going to tell you how to fix that easily and inexpensively.

    LESLIE: And we’re giving away a prize this hour that can turn your shower into a spa experience. It’s a Levaqua One-Touch Digital Showerhead and it’s got four different spray settings that you can change with just a touch. It’s worth $90.

    TOM: And it’s going out to one caller who picks up the phone and calls us with their home improvement question this hour at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those calls.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Andrew in Idaho is on the line needing some ways to soundproof a room. Tell us what room. What’s going on?

    ANDREW: Hi, Tom. Hi, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Hey.

    TOM: Hi.

    ANDREW: I’m having some problems. I’ve got four roommates. We’re all friends.

    TOM: And you want to stay that way.

    LESLIE: Now.

    ANDREW: Yeah. And I just got a new job. I work at 3:00 a.m. in the morning.

    TOM: Oh, man.

    ANDREW: A lot of them stay up until 3:00 a.m. in the morning.

    TOM: OK.

    ANDREW: And I was just wondering if there was any quick and efficient ways I can soundproof, say, my bedroom to be able to sleep at night.

    TOM: Yeah, now, where is your room in relation to the noise? Are you like at the end of the hall or anything like that? Tell us about it.

    ANDREW: We’ve got three steps; there’s three different levels.

    TOM: OK.

    ANDREW: And I’m in the tallest level. You walk down a flight of stairs; they’re mostly in the living room. And if you take another corner from going down those stairs, you’ll go into their rooms.

    TOM: OK. So, sound transmits, as you know, pretty quickly and pretty aggressively. If you want to quiet it in your room and you’re willing to do a little bit of work, you can make it a lot softer by improving the walls.

    There are a couple of ways to do this. One way is to use a product called Green Glue, where you essentially put the glue on the walls and then put a second layer of drywall on top of that. And that second layer, with the Green Glue in between, sort of isolates it.

    That said, it’s expensive to – because you need 2 tubes of Green Glue for every 4×8 sheet of drywall and we’re talking about these big tubes, not the little caulk tubes. The ones that are humungous. And so you put a lot of Green Glue and a lot of drywall and of course, you’ve got to spackle, you’ve got to paint; you’ve got to do all that. That’s the first way to do it.

    The second way to do it is to use a product called QuietRock, which is kind of like a laminated drywall that already has the glue sort of in it and whatever else they do to stop sound transmission. And again, with that you put a second layer on your existing walls.

    And the QuietRock is about, what, 35, 40 bucks a sheet, Leslie? Something like that?

    LESLIE: Yeah, it – I mean it’s pricey but it does the trick.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Andrew, are you renting?

    ANDREW: It’s kind of hard to explain. One of the couples just got married and they bought this house.

    TOM: OK.

    ANDREW: And they’re – I’m renting the room, technically.

    TOM: How do you feel about improving their house, even though you’re a renter?

    ANDREW: They’re fine with it because they’re wanting to do the same thing for their rooms, so …

    TOM: OK. Yeah.

    ANDREW: For the Green Glue, do we have to worry about texture?

    TOM: No, no, no. It’s all between.

    LESLIE: Well, that goes in between the two sheets of drywall.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: It sort of acts as the sound barrier behind that new sheet of drywall that you’re putting on. If you go with the QuietRock, which is the second option, you don’t need that Green Glue but you are adding a second layer of drywall.

    TOM: Right. Now, there’s one other important thing I have to mention, Andrew, and that’s this: technically, to soundproof a room, you really need to get to the electrical boxes and other penetrations of the wall from behind it, from the inside. And of course, that’s impossible to do in a finished house.

    So even though you’re going to quiet it, you’re not going to do as good a job as you could because if the wall was wide open, you’d go from the back side and you would be wrapping the electrical boxes that are special, almost like a clay-like kind of a material that you press around the box with the QuietRock, that seals in all of those gaps so that no sound gets through there.

    So you can’t do everything but you can do a pretty good job.

    ANDREW: OK. Yeah, we were just wanting to do a little bit of changing just so people talking in the living room and stuff, it won’t come into the bedrooms.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Well, unfortunately, it’s not a simple fix; it’s basically taking all of your stuff out of your room and redrywalling the whole thing. You can put heavy drapes up, you can put carpets on the walls – I mean hang wall coverings, things that like – that will soften it from a décor perspective. But realistically …

    LESLIE: But it’s not going to do what you really want it to do.

    TOM: Right.

    ANDREW: Well, I will definitely look into that Green Glue. I do have some sheetrock experience.

    TOM: Alright. Well, then, maybe it’s a good project for you. It’s either that or earplugs, my friend, OK?

    ANDREW: Alrighty. Thank you, guys.

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

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

    AMY: I live in a house; it’s about 15 years old. And every winter, I have the same problem. I’ve been here for three years but I have condensation on the inside of my windows. I think they’re pretty decent windows. I know when we had the home inspection, the guy said these are really good windows. Just wondering what I can do to control it.

    LESLIE: Now, when you’re talking about this, this is in your living room, you’re saying?

    AMY: It’s actually in just about every room of the house. It’s worse in my bedrooms and it’s gotten – it seems like it’s getting worse in other areas of the house.

    TOM: Well, the reason that your windows condense, Adrienne, is because they’re not insulated properly. I’m going to presume that they’re thermal-pane windows, is that correct?

    AMY: They are.

    TOM: They’re thermal-pane windows but they’re not very good thermal panes, because the windows are super-cold. So what happens is when the warm, moist air inside your house strikes them, it condenses.

    So what can you do at this point in time short of replacing the windows? You could take some steps to try to reduce the volume of moisture that’s inside the house.

    AMY: OK.

    TOM: This might include taking a look to make sure that your outside drainage is done properly so that you’re not collecting water.

    Do you have a basement?

    AMY: We do.

    TOM: OK. So you want to make sure that you have gutters on the house, downspouts that are clean, downspouts that are extended away, soil that’s sloping away from the walls. That sort of thing reduces soil moisture. Dehumidification of the basement can help. You can either do it with a portable or a whole-house dehumidifier.

    LESLIE: Depending on your heating system.

    AMY: Right.

    TOM: Making sure that your bath fans are exhausted outside, making sure that your kitchen range hood is exhausted outside. Those are the sorts of things that will reduce the volume of humidity in the house.

    But I think until you get better-quality windows in there that are better-insulated, you’re still going to continue to have this to some degree, because it’s just sort of the nature of the beast. If it’s really cold outside and it’s really warm and moist inside, that condensation is going to form, the same way it happens in the summer when you go outside with a glass of ice water and you get droplets on the outside.

    AMY: Sure.

    TOM: It’s just the nature of the condensation.

    AMY: Why does it seem worse when I have the blinds drawn or the blinds are down and closed? And then there’s more condensation on the windows.

    TOM: Because the windows are probably colder when the blinds are down. The warm air inside the house is not getting to the glass as readily. So the windows are probably a little colder when the blind’s down; you have less air circulation across it, so you’re not drying off some of that moisture, probably, as quickly as you would have.

    AMY: Oh, OK. Yeah, that makes sense.

    TOM: So do what you can to reduce the amount of humidity inside the house and then keep an eye on them. But I think, eventually, you’re going to want to think about replacing your windows and you can do that in stages. Start in the north side first, because that’s going to be the coldest side of the house and the side that will give you the best return on investment.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, have you ever found yourself stuck in your own garage thanks to a winter blast of Arctic air? We’re going to tell you the best way to release your car and yourself from the trap of a frozen garage door, next.

    (theme song)

    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 on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And the number to call is 888-MONEY-PIT. One caller that makes that call this hour might just win the One-Touch Digital Showerhead from Levaqua. It’s a showerhead that installs in minutes and lets you program timer settings, choose your water spray and even select an eco-option to save water all while you get yourself nice squeaky-clean. So give us a call to get the answer to your question and your chance to win, at 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Steve in Kentucky is on the line with a roofing question. Tell us what’s going on.

    STEVE: Hi, Leslie. Well, I’ve got a little 1930s – early 30s – farmhouse that we’re restoring and trying to get a little environmental project going up there.

    TOM: OK.

    STEVE: And we have a couple of leaks. We’ve had a record rainfall down here in Louisville this last year and we noticed that when it’s a really hard rain out of the west, that along the seams of the old tin roof, we get – well, it’s like a wetness and then it turns into a drip in different locations.

    And I’m just wondering what’s the proper way to seal something like that up where we don’t have to, you know, pull the whole roof to get it.

    TOM: Now, what kind of tin roof do you have? Is it a flat-seam metal roof or is it a standing-seam metal roof?

    STEVE: It’s a standing-seam metal roof.

    TOM: OK. And has it ever been covered with tar or anything like that to try to seal it up?

    STEVE: No, it’s still the original tin.

    TOM: OK. So …

    STEVE: It has a little paint on it.

    TOM: Right. I mean that’s a good thing because, typically, the way you fix those is you solder them. And to do that, you have to strip the paint off, identify the sort of worn-out area. There’s probably a worn-out, cracked, rusted-out area and the repair would be to solder it. And that’s actually a good thing, Steve, because if you solder it, it’s sort of a lifetime repair.

    What happens with these – too many of these metal roofs, though – is that folks don’t want to take sort of the long approach to this repair and they will cover it with tar or caulk or something of that nature. And in doing so, eventually the water gets underneath that and then it seriously rusts it out pretty quickly.

    STEVE: Right.

    TOM: So the secret to success here is to try to find somebody who’s been around long enough that knows how to resolder a metal roof. And that will fix it permanently.

    STEVE: OK. And I’m assuming that that’s probably some specialized tools then.

    TOM: Well, just the right-size torches and solder and all of that sort of thing, yeah. But the guys that do metal roofs have those tools.

    STEVE: Great. And is that – I guess maybe I ought to go up there with them. If I can get them fix it, I’ll watch and learn a little bit.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, then, you’d be able to do it yourself next time, right?

    STEVE: Maybe so, maybe so. Well, I appreciate the advice and I’ll look along that path. And I just want to let you know that we really enjoy you all’s show down here in Louisville.

    TOM: Well, thank you so very much and good luck with that project. Remember, when you’re working with that heat up in that roof, too, that there’s a fire hazard associated with this repair, too. So just make sure that you’re super-super-careful, OK, Steve? We don’t want you to call us back and ask us how to rebuild the building as the next call, OK?

    STEVE: Nope. I think I’ll put somebody with a fire extinguisher in the attic and we’ll do it on a little spring day.

    LESLIE: Thanks for calling The Money Pit.

    Well, storing your car in a garage can help keep it frost-free but the same can’t be said for garage doors that often become stuck in super-cold weather, trapping you and your car inside. If you find yourself frozen in, this is what you’ve got to do. First, you really just need to try to adjust the pressure setting on your door opener. A little extra pressure might just be exactly what you need to dislodge it from the ice. If that doesn’t work, disconnect the automatic opener and try to open that door manually.

    TOM: And in either case, be sure you don’t force it or you could damage the door.

    Now, if the ice is too thick to open it by hand, you’ll need to defrost the door first. You can spray the lock with a deicer along the bottom of the door. And by the way, WD-40, the miracle product, also works well for that or you could pour some lukewarm water along the base and then slide an ice scraper along that bottom sort of to break away any remaining ice. Now, once the door is open, clear away any remaining snow and ice so it doesn’t happen again.

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

    LESLIE: Beverly in Nebraska is on the line and is looking to do a flooring, I guess, tiling project. Tell us what’s going on.

    BEVERLY: Well, I have a brick fireplace that I would like to reface with ceramic tile.

    LESLIE: Oh, great. It’s a fireplace question.

    BEVERLY: Yes. I want to know if what – if I need to do any special steps to prep the brick. I’ve heard yes and I’ve heard no, so thought I might call somebody that might have a real answer.

    TOM: As long as the brick is not dirty or doesn’t have loose paint on it or anything of that nature, I don’t think there’s a lot of prep involved there. What’s going to be really important is that you get a good coat of adhesive underneath it. And you can use a tile mastic on top of that brick to attach the tile to.

    LESLIE: What size are the tiles that you’re looking at, Bev, to put over this?

    BEVERLY: Twelve by twelve, probably.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Tom, is there any concerns with the difference between the brick and the mortar line for unevenness? Or because the tile is so large, it’s going to …

    TOM: No, because you know what? Think about it. When you put tile down, you use a notched trowel, right? So you never have a complete 100-percent contact of the tile with the substrate. So the fact that there’s recessed mortar on this brick fireplace is not of a concern to me. It’s just more of a concern that we get a good, solid coat of adhesive there and that they dry well, they’re nice and stable.

    And really, you want to make sure that you plan this out carefully, Bev. I mean frankly, it’s really small spaces to get that to fit right, to look right, to make sure the corners are done properly. If it’s sloppy, you’re going to be kicking yourself because it’ll be obvious to anybody that looks at this that it wasn’t done by a pro. So just make sure it’s done really well so that it looks like it was almost intended to be that way the first time the fireplace and the hearth was envisioned, OK?

    BEVERLY: OK. One thing that I’d heard about, the brick mortar line sucks up the moisture out of the mastic quicker. Is that something I need to worry about or just …?

    TOM: Nah. Nope. Wouldn’t worry about it at all. That makes no sense to me. Look, people put concrete – put tile down on concrete and will tell you the same issue. Just plan it correctly, Bev, so that you have all the corners line up right, you have the right pieces, the right – the types of tile that you’re choosing are the ones that, for example, have closed corners where they wrap around the outside.

    And make sure it’s going to work. You may find that 12-inch is too wide for that; it might be easier if you use a smaller tile because you’d have a little more flexibility.

    BEVERLY: Like maybe a six or eight?

    TOM: Like a six, yeah, or an eight. Yep, exactly.

    Depending on the shape, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. It really depends on what look you’re going for. And with a ceramic tile, think about the finish on them. You know, a glazed tile is going to clean better when you get dirt and debris from the smoke in the fireplace itself. But an unglazed one might have a more hearth-y, traditional look. So think about the overall look you’re trying to get.

    And you can also – a 12-by is kind of large so if you’re looking to put a decorative tile, say, as cornerstones around your mantle or something, think about adding in little detail pieces and then you can size your tiles accordingly.

    TOM: So does that help you out?

    BEVERLY: Yeah. We’re just trying to make it look a little more modern.

    TOM: Yeah, I think that’s definitely a good idea. I think it will look more modern; I think it’ll be very attractive. Just take your time, do it once, do it right and you won’t have to do it again.

    LESLIE: Jim in Tennessee is on the line with a concrete cracking-up issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    JIM: Yes. I have a concrete driveway that every winter it seems to – the crack seems to separate.

    TOM: OK. Yep.

    JIM: I’ve used several different things, like cement. But the cement crumbles.

    TOM: Of course it does, Jim. Because cement is not a good patching material.

    JIM: Oh, OK.

    TOM: It doesn’t expand and contract, it doesn’t stick properly. What you need is an epoxy patching compound. Epoxy compounds are designed specifically to stick to the concrete floor that you have and to not crack and re-crack. Anytime you try to use regular cement and fill something in, there’s just not enough base there, so to speak, and it will continue to open and close and expand and contract and turn into little chunks of concrete that will fall out.

    JIM: Oh, great. I had no idea.

    LESLIE: And it’s an easy fix.

    TOM: Take a look at the QUIKRETE website. There’s a number of products out there designed specifically for this. But make sure it’s a patching compound and it’ll do a much better job.

    JIM: Hey, we love your show. I tell you, we get a lot of good tips on it.

    LESLIE: Thanks, Jim.

    You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, regardless of what team you are rooting for, one way to score a victory is to watch the Super Bowl on a big, beautiful, flat-screen TV.

    Up next, Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House will be by with easy installation tips, including how to hide those wires, next.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Icynene. If you’re building, remodeling or reinsulating, demand Icynene spray-foam insulation. Icynene fills the spaces other insulations miss, for up to 50-percent energy savings. Learn more and find a dealer at Icynene.com. I-c-y-n-e-n-e.com.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We are standing by to help you get that next project done. And here’s one project that you don’t want to have to get involved in and that is if you get caught in a snowstorm without a snow blower. Log on to MoneyPit.com and find out how to choose a snow blower for your needs. That’s all online at MoneyPit.com. Just search “snow blowers how to choose.”

    LESLIE: Jeff in Tennessee is tackling a flooring project in a bathroom. Tell us what you’re working on.

    JEFF: Well, I’m in a quandary because I’ve been told I can’t do what I want to do but that’s not unusual.

    TOM: OK.

    JEFF: I’ve got a vinyl floor in a bathroom and I want to put down tile and I wanted to minimize or eliminate the extra work. And I wanted to put the tile over the vinyl flooring.


    JEFF: And it’s just ceramic tile. It’s not a large area. It’s got a vanity and a bath/shower combination and a toilet.

    TOM: Is it fairly small ceramic tile?

    JEFF: Twelve inch.

    TOM: Ooh, 12 inch. OK. So you need a really solid floor for this, which means you’re going to have to put down WonderBoard or a mud floor. Because if you try to put this down over the vinyl or over, say, luan plywood or something like that, it will most likely be too much flex in the floor. And tiles don’t bend, especially the big, wide, 12-inch ones.

    So, your first priority is going to be to pull everything out of that bathroom and put down a solid floor – solid subfloor – and then you can tile on top of that. That’s the biggest part of that project.

    JEFF: Now, Tom, if I do that, does that mean if I put – and I guess some people call that HardieBacker board or something like that.

    TOM: Right. WonderBoard or HardieBacker, yep. Mm-hmm.

    JEFF: OK. And if I put that down, am I going to have to raise that – the toilet – in order to accommodate the tile and that backer?

    TOM: Yeah. But there’s an extension that you could put on the flange that will bring that up that inch or so that you’ll need.

    JEFF: And I guess I’ll probably have to look at cutting off the bottom part of the door to accommodate the threshold of that.

    TOM: Yeah but that’s easy enough to do.

    JEFF: Now, you indicated that – and you kind of cringed a little bit when I said 12-inch. Would it accommodate smaller tile?

    TOM: Well, I mean it’s a design question but when you have wide tile like that in a bathroom, it will tend to crack. You know, the floors get soft and bouncy, especially around the toilet, so it’s really critical that it be properly supported.

    And the trend now is, surprisingly so, to go wider tile. It used to be that you would – in a small bathroom, you would use a small tile. But now, the trend seems to be opposite to that and they’re using a lot more wider tile because it makes the room look bigger.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And other options, as far as tile size in a small space, is going with a tile that’s more plank-size, so it almost looks as if it’s a plank of lumber. Maybe it’s 6×24 and then laying it out brick-style as you would wood floor. And that can also help make the space feel larger but again, because of the size of the tile, you have to make sure that that subfloor and that base is very stable and really secure. Because if there is any movement, that tile is going to crack.

    JEFF: I just can’t get around being lazy. I’m going to have to go the whole route.

    LESLIE: If you want it to last for a long, long time and save you from doing that project again, then yes.

    JEFF: Thank you so very much. I really enjoy your show and catch it as often as I can.

    TOM: Well, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: So you finally got that flat-screen TV that you’ve always wanted and you’ve got it hanging right where you want it: that perfect, prime spot for viewing, right up on your wall.

    TOM: Yes but what do you now do with all those dangling cords and wires? Tom Silva is the general contractor for TV’s This Old House and he’s faced this problem himself and has some tips and tricks to magically make all that mess disappear.

    Welcome, Tommy.

    TOM SILVA: Hi, guys. Nice to be here.

    TOM: Now, this is one of those problems that you really want to – it kind of ruins the whole point of having a flat-screen TV, you know? It’s very clean, it’s very crisp, it’s very modern but then you have this mess of wire.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, with a mess of wire hanging down underneath, it looks terrible.

    TOM: So what are some ways to hide those cables?

    TOM SILVA: Well, there’s a couple of ways. Basically, you could punch a hole in the wall right behind the TV and another one down below the table or whatever it’s at, right near the outlet, and snake the wire down through there.

    TOM: Down the channel of the wall.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, if you have a – yeah.

    TOM: But what if it’s a brick wall or something you can’t do that to or if your wife is saying, “You absolutely will not be cutting a hole in my wall”?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, that happened to me, actually. I wasn’t allowed to do that.

    But anyways, yeah, there are actually chases that you can face or screw to the wall. It’s …

    TOM: Now, what’s a chase?

    TOM SILVA: Well, you’re making a chase, I should have said.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: It’s basically a little channel that you screw or even two-face tape to the wall. And then you run your wires into that little chase and there’s a little piece that you can clip right on it to hide the wires.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And those you can paint, right, to match your wall color and they virtually disappear.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, they virtually – you’re right. And they’re very hard to see because they disappear.

    LESLIE: Yeah, they do.

    Another thing that I’ve seen done, if you’re lucky enough to have a closet on the back side, is you can run your components through to that back-side closet. However, your remote control then doesn’t operate as effectively as you would have liked.

    TOM SILVA: No, you have to get one of those little things – the wires that you glue to the TV right onto the remote sensor – and then that will pick it up there.

    TOM: Because that’s one of the wires that hangs out.

    TOM SILVA: But again, that’s just – it’s another wire that – yeah.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Now, you actually had a creative solution for this involving a threshold that I saw that you gave a reader of ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah, I basically had a threshold that I basically put a channel in it.

    TOM: Now, a threshold is for a door, typically, right?

    TOM SILVA: Yeah. Well, we used – like I said earlier, I’m a Yankee.

    TOM: You have to do it everywhere.

    TOM SILVA: Whatever I can get off the shelf, I will use.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: But yeah, basically an oak threshold, I think it was, and I put a channel in the back of it or a dado and hide the wires with that. You can actually make – you can take it – if you have a table saw, you can take any piece of wood and miter the three pieces and make your own without a dado blade.

    TOM: Channel it out.

    Now, any tips for running those wires safely once you’ve actually decided what your cord-management system is going to be?

    TOM SILVA: Well, you want to make sure that you don’t have the electrical wires right next to or against the wire that’s bringing all the data to. Because sometimes, you can get interference with that, so you have to be careful of that.

    TOM: OK.

    TOM SILVA: So you want to try to separate them, so you don’t want to have the pieces – you don’t want to have that channel too wide.

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: If you’re just getting it into a wall cavity, that’s another thing you don’t have to worry about it that much.

    You also want to make it so that you leave enough slack in the line so that if you have to turn the TV, you don’t pull the thing out and then you’ve got to say, “Why isn’t it working?”

    TOM: Right.

    TOM SILVA: And you’ve got to take the TV off the wall, in some cases, just to get to it.

    And you want to make sure that nothing is rubbing; you don’t want to wear a wire. So if the TV gets moved a lot or a table or something gets moved into those wires, you don’t want them to rub.

    TOM: A little trick of the trade from the radio business: label both ends of your cable.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM SILVA: Yes, yes. And another thing that’s very important: don’t lay them underneath a rug.

    TOM: Oh, yeah.

    TOM SILVA: Because you’re going to step on that rug. You’re walking on that rug and believe it or not, you’re wearing on those wires and you can get electrocuted, cause a fire.

    TOM: Cause a fire, yeah.

    TOM SILVA: Yeah.

    TOM: Good advice. Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    TOM SILVA: My pleasure.

    TOM: We’ll be thinking of you the next time we watch the big game on the flat-screen TV, because we’ll watch the game and not the wires.

    TOM SILVA: There you go.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For your local listings, some great step-by-step videos and of course, informative articles on this project and others, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.

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

    Still ahead, has winter wind wreaked havoc on your vinyl siding? We’ll have easy steps for maintenance and repair, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    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 should give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT because we’re giving out home improvement advice, of course. But we’ve got up for grabs to one lucky caller this hour a One-Touch Fixed Digital Showerhead from Levaqua. Besides turning your shower into a spa, it actually lets you pause your shower and even set a timer on it, too, which all adds up to water savings. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for us to give you a hand and for a chance to win that great prize.

    TOM: Well, more than any other exterior element, siding makes a big visual impact for your house. And vinyl siding is probably the most popular siding in the country, mostly because it’s durable, it’s inexpensive and it requires very little maintenance.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Even though it’s not often, vinyl siding will occasionally need some fixing.

    Now, pieces can become loose from a storm and then they start to peel back. And this isn’t a hard fix; you just need to pick up a tool called a zipper.

    TOM: Yeah. The tool actually works by locking the pieces back together as you slide it along, just like a zipper. And this makes it easy to snap a piece of loose siding back in place. It saves you time and money and it also makes sure that siding won’t loosen up further, leading to leaks inside your house where that could cause structural damage. So, just pick up a zipper tool and you will be done with that project in a flash.

    888-666-3974 is the telephone number. Pick up the phone and give us a call right now with your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Alright. Our next caller is a Facebook fan of The Money Pit and he’s calling in from Wisconsin. We’ve got Antoine on the line who’s got a pellet-stove question. How can we help you?

    ANTOINE: My house is about 1,000 square foot and I wanted to put in a pellet stove.

    TOM: OK.

    ANTOINE: And I was wondering, what would be the best location and the best way to ventilate it?

    TOM: OK. Good question. Now, first of all, hurray for the choice of a pellet stove. A very green energy choice. Lots of options. Pellet stoves are affordable, the fuel’s affordable. They work very, very well. You fill them up and literally can walk away from them.

    Since it’s not tied into a central-heating system, you want it to be centrally located so you get the best amount of heat distribution outside of it. Very, very important that you follow the National Fire Safety Protection Organization standards for installation of that, because they do get very, very hot.

    How you install it, it depends on where you’re putting it. For example, the average wood stove needs about 3 feet of space behind it to combustibles. However, if you build a heat shield, then you can move it closer. I’ve seen them as close as 12 inches if they’re installed with heat shields, which basically create sort of a wall that’s vented that the heat can sort of pass over and the air can pass over and it can remain cool.

    Going up to the attic? Same situation. You typically use a triple-wall pipe – triple-wall vent pipe – to take that hot gas out. And again, it has to be installed correctly. So it’s not the kind of project that I would recommend that you do if you’ve never installed one before, because of the specialty knowledge you need to make sure it’s done safely, Antoine.

    So if you want to shop it, buy it, get it in the store, get it in the house, that’s great. But I would definitely consider having a contractor that’s built these before do the actual installation for you. I would also make sure that you have the local fire marshal inspect the installation for you to make sure that it’s done correctly.

    ANTOINE: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT and for “liking” The Money Pit page on Facebook, which is at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    And by the way, if you would head on over to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and “like” our page, you could also get priority access to the radio show as we produce it.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Pre-fab homes? They’re usually less expensive but are there drawbacks when you choose to own one? We’ll tell you all about that, after this.

    (theme song)

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

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And in the past decade, mold has become one of the most dangerous toxins found in homes. MoneyPit.com can help, though. We can help keep your home mold-free. Just search “mold-free home” at MoneyPit.com for advice from which building materials are mold-resistant, to mold-killing ventilation. That’s all online. Just search “mold-free home” at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And you can head on over to Money Pit’s Community section and post your question. I’ve got one here from Kay who writes: “I’m considering buying a home in a neighborhood that has mainly pre-fab houses. Are there any drawbacks to owning modular?”

    TOM: Oh, God, there’s absolutely no drawbacks to owning modular. In fact, Kay, it’s not that pre-fab is a bad thing in this particular case, because pre-fab means that these homes are built in factories where they really truly control the quality. And so you have consistency in terms of the accuracy of the cuts, the assembly. The lumber is not too wet or too dry, so it’s very stable.

    A pre-fab home today can be a really excellent value. Plus, because it’s pre-fab, it goes up very, very quickly. It’s not exposed to the weather on-site and I think it’s just a really good option all the way around. So, I’ve got nothing but praises for pre-fabricated houses.

    LESLIE: Yeah and you know what? In our neighborhood, which is mostly homes that are 100 years old, we do have a handful of pre-fab homes and you can’t tell the difference. They’re beautifully made, so I say buy it and enjoy it.

    Alright. Next up, I’ve got a post from Laura who wrote: “Interesting problem. I can get hot water out of my bathtub faucet if I’m taking a bath but I have no hot water out of my showerhead. I’ve got water pressure, just water that’s not hot. Any ideas about this problem?”

    TOM: Yep. Got a problem with the shower diverter; it’s not doing its job of getting that hot water up. So, a minor plumbing fix there, Laura. Interesting problem but very simple, simple solution.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got a post from SRC who writes: “What are the limits of my garbage disposer in the kitchen sink? When I was growing up, I got used to cleaning plates by throwing everything in the trash before putting the dishes in the sink to be washed. Every now and then, I still cling to my old habits and I cringe every time somebody dumps food down the kitchen drain. Am I worrying for nothing?”

    TOM: Well, unless you clog the disposer, I’d say you are worried about nothing. For the most part, disposers can handle pretty much any kind of food waste that you put down them. You don’t want to put something like, say, peels from the shrimp or anything that’s really fatty, because the shrimp peels tend to sort of mash up and jam up and clog up your sinks. The fat can obviously clog the drains.

    But for the most part, you can put pretty much anything down there. And even in some cases, you can even use small bones. Some of these disposers are so strong today that you can put bones in them. And the real new ones even have sort of clog-reversing mechanisms so if something gets stuck in there, it kind of reverses and sort of shakes the clog free. So you really should have no fear about putting it down the disposer. If it grinds it up and it washes away, then there’s really nothing further to be concerned about.

    And by the way, here’s a myth of disposers, Leslie. In the 20 years that I spent as a professional home inspector, people used to think you always have to run water to run your disposer. You don’t. You have to run water only if you want to move the waste down but the disposer doesn’t need the water to sort of stay cool or anything of that nature.

    LESLIE: Right.

    TOM: It’s all a sealed-bearing system, so as long as the water moves the food down, that’s the only reason to run it. It doesn’t have to be run to turn the disposer actually on.

    LESLIE: But I’m of the same mindset. Having never owned one – I mean I’ve been in friends’ apartments who have them and they’re like, “Put it down the drain. Put it down the drain.” And I know what can go down there. It still kind of weirds me out. I think I’d be afraid to use it but it’s just because I’ve never had one.

    TOM: Right. But once you own a disposer, you will never, ever want to have a house that doesn’t have one, because you can pretty much put everything down there.

    LESLIE: Well and imagine the less amount of trash you’ll have every day.

    TOM: Well, exactly. And if you ever have one that jams up and actually gets stuck or seized, there’s a reset button underneath the motor, which you can see kind of you get upside down and look in the cabinet. If you just hit that reset button, it’ll start up again.

    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s a good trick that people never know about.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. You may now all take a break from your home improvement projects and prepare your home for the big game, which is just upon us this weekend. Hope that you enjoy it. Hope that your team comes out on top. I know that Leslie and I will be rooting right there with you.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I’m rooting for wings.

    And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    (theme song)


    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete


    (promo/theme song)

    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: Standing by to answer your home improvement questions, solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas, help you turn your place from house to home to castle. Help yourself first by picking up the phone and calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    And the home improvement of the week – the home improvement du jour, Leslie – is getting the house ready for the big Super Bowl party.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Right. Cooking wings. Getting beer. Good.

    TOM: So this hour – cooking wings. That’s what Super Bowl means to you.

    LESLIE: It does. I could care less about which teams; I just want to eat some wings. It’s my favorite part of the day.

    TOM: Well, listen, whatever your excuse is for getting ready for Super Bowl, that’s fine. But here is a project that you might want to think about and that is why not build a home bar? You can build a home bar to impress your friends.

    And we’ve got some solutions this hour on how you can do this, regardless of your skillset. If you’re a total pro, great. But if not, there are ways that you can recycle old, resalvaged bars, so to speak, and have them fit in perfectly and look great in your basement, in your family room, your living room, wherever you want to create it. And we’ll have some tips on that, coming up.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Just start this project before you start celebrating.

    Plus, installing a bookshelf, that’s a great addition to your décor but one that can turn into a huge safety hazard if you do not properly attach it to a wall. We’re going to tell you how to make sure this is a safe project.

    TOM: Also, with all the new options in light bulbs out there, buying one can be super-confusing. Consumer Reports is helping us out, though. They just published a great study that will simplify the choices. And the editor who worked on that study is going to be joining us in just a few minutes with the results.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour, one caller is going to get an entire winter’s supply of Morton Safe-T-Pet. And it’s a great ice melt for your sidewalk and driveway and it’s not going to hurt your four-legged friends. And it’s a prize package worth 60 bucks.

    TOM: So, pick up the phone, give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Al in Texas has got a house that tends to move a lot. Now you can’t close your darn doors. Tell us what’s going on, Al.

    AL: Well, you know, here in this part – side of town – our soils are not very good and they tend to shift all the time.

    TOM: OK.

    AL: So it’s a constant battle with the doors not locking properly. And so my question has to do with – there’s a male and a female side and so, should I change – adjust the door or do I need to go to the female side to adjust that so that the door locks properly?

    TOM: The place you make the adjustment, Al, really depends on what’s the easiest way to do this, so let me give you a couple of examples.

    Let’s say that the door itself was hitting the door jamb a little bit low and you had to pick it up a bit? Well, if you went to the upper hinge and was able to tighten it, that will actually sort of twist the door upwards in its frame and move that striker up higher, perhaps enough to actually make the connection on the strike plate. And if you had to move it down, you could tighten the lower hinge. So you can do a little bit of movement by shimming the hinges or moving the hinges or tightening the hinges in the door.

    Beyond that, the easiest thing to do is to actually reset the striker plate on the door jamb itself, to move that up or down to align properly with the door itself. And you could actually have a striker that’s a little bit wider than perhaps what you really need, in terms of the actual striker hole, so that if the door was to shift a little bit throughout the year because of swelling and expansion and contraction, it would still continue to operate properly. Does that make sense?

    AL: It does. Now, let me ask you one last thing. On the – not on the door but on the other side, would I need to change that piece of wood? And why I say that is because, typically, that little metal piece is actually almost encrusted onto the wood. I mean there’s always like a little square and if it’s like perfectly in there, would I need to replace all of that or could I just maybe …?

    TOM: Not necessarily replace it but what you would do is you might open it up a little bit. So for example, you would take off the striker and then with the chisel, you would widen out the hole a little bit and then you would put it back together.

    AL: That makes sense.

    TOM: OK?

    AL: Thanks very much. I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Laura in South Carolina is having a caulking issue in the bathtub. What’s going on?

    LAURA: We have had to re-caulk the bathtub, in the last six months, probably two or three times.

    TOM: Wow.

    LAURA: Every time we do it, we scrape the old caulking off, we re-caulk it and then let it dry for a couple of days. And then after like a couple weeks, it starts crumbling and cracking and now it just disintegrates.

    TOM: First of all, what kind of caulk are you using?

    LAURA: I believe it’s a latex and I don’t know if that’s the problem?

    TOM: OK. Well, it’s a couple of things. First of all, let me give you the step-by-step way to caulk a bathtub and have it stick. You have to remove the old caulk and if you have a lot of old caulk, I would use a product called a caulk softener. It’s kind of like a paint stripper but it’s for caulk and it makes it soft and pliable, so you can really get rid of all the old stuff and do a really good job cleaning it out.

    Then I would take a bleach-and-water solution, spray down that joint, clean it really well and make sure we’re stripping any mold away that’s in there. After you get it totally ready to go, then fill your bathtub up with water. You want to fill it up to the top with the stopper on so it’s weighted down. This sort of pulls the tub down a bit by putting that weight on it.

    Then you can caulk it. I would use an acrylic latex with Microban in it, which is a mold inhibitor – DAP makes it: a kitchen and bath caulk – or use a silicone caulk. And then, of course, let it dry really well and then let the water out of the tub. And when you do that, the tub kind of comes back and when you get in it to take a bath or a shower, you push it down again and it doesn’t have the same stress on the caulk joint. And it tends to stay in a lot longer that way.

    So those are the steps that’ll get it in there and hopefully have it stay for a while.

    LAURA: Oh. How long should I let it dry?

    TOM: Oh, just a day. That’s all.

    LAURA: A day. OK.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s it.

    LESLIE: OK, wonderful. Great. That’s a good idea. OK, thank you.

    TOM: Alright. You’re welcome. Good luck with that project, Laura. 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. Now you can be part of the fun. Pick up the phone and give us a call; let us know what you’re working on. We promise we’ll take it easy on you. We’ll give you a hand. We are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, if you really want to wow your Super Bowl guests, why not have them belly-up to your very own homemade bar? We’ll tell you what you need to know to get this project done, next.

    MIKE: Hey, this is Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and I’ve just been told that Tom and Leslie might have a dirtier job than me? I find that hard to believe but then I heard they worked in a pit. It’s a money pit but it’s still filthy.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number to call is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Hey, winter conditions can be a dangerous time for pets, as well. And that’s why one caller this hour is going to get a great way to keep both you and Rover safe when there’s ice and snow on the ground. We’re giving away a whole winter’s worth of Safe-T-Pet Ice Melt from Morton. It’s salt- and chloride-free. It’s great for your car, it’s great for your concrete sidewalks and most importantly, it is safe for your pet. Going to go out to one caller that picks up the phone with their home improvement question. The number is 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Ken on the line who’s dealing with a very moist situation in the attic. Tell us what’s going on.

    KEN: OK, yeah. Say, we live – Dorothy and I – about three blocks from the Pacific Ocean, next to the Columbia River. I purchased a house here with a flat roof. Basically, it has about a 3/12 pitch. It had a torch-down system on it and I opted to go – an IAB Teflon system.

    TOM: OK.

    KEN: And it was about a $10,000 system. Well, after they put it in, about a year later I noticed mold on the underside of the roof. And they put three vents – about 8-inch-diameter vents – in the ridge. And when I saw the mold, well, they said, “Well, you’re not getting adequate ventilation in the (inaudible at 0:10:32).” Well, anyway, they put six more vents in there and they had messed up and left about a half-a-dozen little holes where they had bad leaks. And so I had water in between the IAB system and the torch-down and my plywood.

    TOM: Wow.

    KEN: So I put the fan in there and my question now is – and putting those additional six vents on the bottom.

    TOM: Are you talking about – when you say “the bottom,” are you talking about the underside of the overhang at the soffit level?

    KEN: Well, no. I don’t have any overhang.

    TOM: You don’t have any of the – OK.

    KEN: It’s a flat roof and it just comes to the walls. And so, after they put the six – three on the – or four on the top ridge about – I had mentioned to them we should put some vents down low and they said, “No, you don’t need vents up here with that little” – but probably wouldn’t have had to have but they were incompetent.

    TOM: OK.

    KEN: And they did because they left about a half-a-dozen holes and leaks in that Teflon.

    TOM: Alright. So here’s the situation. So you had a minimal amount of vent. You spotted some mold, you added additional vents and now you’re – are you still seeing mold in the attic or not?

    KEN: No, I think – they came in and they wiped it down with whatever.

    TOM: So you’re not seeing the mold anymore in the attic. And the question is do – is it possible to have too much ventilation? The answer is no. In fact, a perfectly ventilated attic space is going to be at ambient temperature all the time.

    Now, because it’s a flat roof, it’s much more difficult to vent. If this was a pitched roof with an overhang, you would have soffit vents down across the soffit, ridge vents across the peak. It would essentially be wide open all the time, constantly circulating air. And what that does is in the wintertime, it takes out moisture, which can condense and lead to mold. In the summer, it takes out heat which, of course, drives up your cooling costs. So I don’t think it’s possible to have too much attic ventilation.

    Did you also mention that you put a fan in there?

    KEN: Well, I put a fan in there to dry out the moisture first and that’s what my concern was. Maybe I shouldn’t have put the fan, because I’m spreading those mold spores around by doing that.

    TOM: Well, if the mold was treated, I wouldn’t worry too much about that. But here’s the thing about fans. Now, the fans – the attic fans – are only going to work on a heat-sensitive switch unless you wired them somehow differently. And so those fans – those attic fans – typically only work in the summertime; they don’t work in the wintertime.

    KEN: It was in the fall, so it was relatively cool.

    TOM: Right. But there’s – but those attic fans work on a thermostat, which is generally, if it’s installed correctly, set at around 100 degrees. So it would have to be an awfully warm, fall day for that to kick on. I would say that if you’re not spotting the mold any further and the attic doesn’t seem to be leaking, you addressed all those issues, that you’re just good the way it is and I would just stop right there and enjoy it.

    KEN: Right, right. Well, this is about the eighth house – we retired in the last four years. It’s kind of like watching gold rush here; you’re always going to find something in an old house. So, we enjoy it but it’s a lot of work.

    TOM: Alright, Ken. Well, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you want to step up your game for entertaining at home, have you thought about building a home bar? Even if you don’t imbibe, bars are still a great place for family and friends to gather.

    Now, the hardest part is finding the right spot in your house for this bar. You know, many people like to put it in the basement but you can put them in your family room, your dining room or even a converted closet.

    TOM: You need to consider, though, how much electricity you’ll need to power all of your fun bar gadgets and how easy it might be to add running water if you need it.

    Now, the average height for a sit-down bar is 42 inches and 46 inches if you just want to make it for standing room only. You also need to figure out a way of having about a foot of overhang onto your countertop’s depth, so this way your knees won’t get knocked when folks are sitting against it.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now when it comes time to actually build one, you can always hire a pro to build one for you. But an even better – and I would say cooler option – is to look at salvage places for bars that have been tossed out in demolition. And you might just actually need a bit of trimming or cleanup or refinishing.

    If you want a complete checklist of items that you’ll need to create a spectacular home bar, just search “home bars” on MoneyPit.com and you’ll certainly be inspired.

    TOM: One of my favorite restaurants in the area in which we live has that beautiful, beautiful bar. And what’s interesting is that the building the restaurant is in is about probably 30 years old. The bar is about 120 years old and it was actually moved from another bar that was in Brooklyn, by a recycler that basically took it apart and then reconstructed it in the “newer” restaurant.

    So there’s a lot of really good-looking old bars out there that you can find in these recycled houses. And sometimes, you find just the right piece, you can do a little trimming, a little adjustment, a little refinishing and it’s just a beautiful piece.

    LESLIE: Elaine in Delaware is on the line and is looking to redo a kitchen completely. Great project. How can we help?

    ELAINE: I have a house that was built in like 1955, OK? So I have the arch entrance going into the dining room. I also have a door going into a basement. I have a door going outside and I have two windows, OK?

    LESLIE: And this is your kitchen we’re talking about.

    ELAINE: Yes. And the kitchen is only 18×12 feet with a 4-foot bump-out for the basement door.


    ELAINE: OK? So I was wondering, number one, if I take out that archway – because I have several other entrances in the house that have the same archway. If I take out that archway and take out that whole wall there that opens up into the dining room …

    LESLIE: Do you want to see your kitchen all the time from the dining room?

    ELAINE: I like that open concept, yes.


    ELAINE: But I’m wondering if it will take away from the integrity of the 1955 style with the arches.

    LESLIE: I think an open plan has a much more modern and fresher feel. But I mean you’re talking about mid-century and that itself has a modern and fresh feel. So I don’t think it compromises one another. The issue is, is that wall load-bearing? Can you feasibly and structurally actually remove it?

    ELAINE: I don’t think it is a load-bearing wall. No, we’ve done some work in the house and I think that we could actually cut that out.

    LESLIE: Now, your kitchen itself, is that original to the home from 1955?

    ELAINE: Yes, it is. And it’s got the old wooden-type cabinets. Like the back door opens up right into the stove.

    TOM: Well, the nice thing about the old wooden cabinets is that they’re really well-built and the second thing is that they’re also easy to refinish.

    That’s a perfect candidate for painting cabinets, replacing hardware and thinking about doing a less-expensive kitchen update that way, right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. It sounds to me, though, that Elaine has got her heart set on a gut job, which isn’t a bad idea either. You know, Tom is right: those cabinets are exceptionally well-made. I think the idea of opening out the room, as long as it makes sense and as long as you don’t mind – is this going to be your formal dining room off of the kitchen?

    ELAINE: Yes.

    LESLIE: OK. It instantly is going to take on a less-formal feel because it is integrated into that main portion of the kitchen.


    LESLIE: But you can still add details to it to dress up that portion of the space. Plus, you can add – a kitchen island is a great addition to a space; it gives a more casual seating area. But keep in mind that once you do the open plan, it does sort of reduce the formality of the dining area. But you can dress it up through color, lighting fixtures, furnishing choices, a rug. There are ways to do that.

    And keep in mind that now you’re opening the space, your working triangle needs to be modified a little bit. But I think there are great ways to make an open plan work and I think eliminating that archway really isn’t going to take away from the historical aspect of the home.

    ELAINE: OK, yeah. And we were actually thinking about maybe putting a couple stools where the wall is now, if we take out that archway, and kind of making a little breakfast bar.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. No, I think as long as structurally you’re able – and you’ll have to consult with an engineer – there’s no problem with removing that wall itself and creating that open plan. And do a lot of research on mid-century design, because you’re smack in that age bracket for your home. And it is swank; it’s very modern. There’s some interesting furnishings; you don’t have to buy the authentic stuff. Although, as gorgeous as it is, there are some fantastic knockoffs in a lot of those pieces. And you can really do something interesting.

    And Lucite is back in a big way. And if you mix Lucite and wood and some interesting lighting, you can really create a cool, mid-century feel.

    ELAINE: OK. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    Up next, LEDs, halogen, incandescents. Is this an SAT test for light bulbs? Well, no but you feel like you are taking a test every time you go to the store these days to buy a new one. Consumer Reports is trying to make it a lot easier. They did a complete study to help us understand the high-efficiency bulbs that are out there. Their editor joins us with those results, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.

    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.

    TOM: And hey, if you’ve been light-bulb shopping lately, you know that there are many new options on the market. The increase in choices, though, has left many consumers totally in the dark about which bulbs are best for them.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And that’s why Consumer Reports has concluded a major study on light bulbs and can tell you not only which ones are the best performers but can answer your questions about all those different options that are out there.

    We’ve got Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman here – and she is the deputy editor at Consumer Reports – to tell us more.


    CELIA: Thank you for inviting me.

    TOM: Now, this is a very confusing time for consumers, isn’t it, Celia? With the 100-watt incandescent, the tried-and-true trusted friend that we’ve had for decades and decades, being phased out at the end of this past year, there’s a lot of new bulbs on the market; there’s a lot of new choices. They’re far more expensive than consumers are used to seeing and so there is understandably some confusion. You guys have tried to set the – set us straight a bit. Tell us about your research.

    CELIA: So we have actually tested all of the new technologies. Who’s got the – and we also know more information about sort of your tried-and-true incandescent bulbs. And there are, in effect, four options right now.

    There are these incandescents that are being phased out; as you mentioned, 100s are first. And then there are halogen bulbs, which also have a filament. They’re kind of – they’re a type of incandescent. And you have CFLs, which people are sort of familiar with that sort of swirly, ice-cream look. And then the newest option is light-emitting diodes: LEDs. And those have just really started to come to the market.

    And there are sort of pros and cons for each one of the technologies.

    TOM: We’re talking to Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman. She’s the deputy home editor for Consumer Reports.

    Celia, you mentioned cost. Yes, certainly some of the bulbs are a couple of dollars. Some of the LEDs I’ve seen are $20 or so yet they have rebates that are available, depending on where you live. Do you think we’re going into a period of time where people are going to have to get used to thinking about the bulb differently? Typically, up to this point, the bulb was almost the throwaway portion of the light fixture. Today, it seems that if we can design a bulb that’s, yes, going to be $20 but it could last 20 years, chances are that the light fixture could actually wear out – say, the switch, for example – before the bulb itself.

    CELIA: And I think you’re right. I think people have to – people will start thinking about bulbs differently, because they’re becoming more of a durable good as opposed to a disposable good.

    And LEDs, what’s really interesting with LEDs is that – how quickly the prices have come down. We tested these bulbs several months ago and when we initially tested them and put the ratings up, some of these – this Philips ambient bulb – LED – was $40 a bulb. And the price is now down to $25 a bulb in a matter of months. And there are even rebates that are being offered sometimes on these bulbs, so the price comes down even more.

    So I think with LEDs, you’re going to see that that price is going to drop dramatically. And LEDs last even longer than CFLs. That’s the claim; they claim to last anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 hours. Now that’s compared to about 7,000 to 10,000 for CFL and only about 1,000 for a regular bulb. So, yeah, you can – the promise of the LED is the LED bulb you just bought, you’re not going to have to change it for 20 years or more, which is a pretty amazing thing.

    And it’s also an incredible convenience with the LEDs. I mean think of all those light fixtures that are in places that are a nuisance that you have to change. Don’t have to change them anymore. And one of the nice things about LEDs is they are dimmable. They are also instant-on, full brightness. So there are a lot of advantages to LEDs over the CFLs.

    The disadvantage at this point, really, is the price. But with LEDs, as with CFLs, it’s really important to look for an Energy Star certification for the bulbs. Because Energy Star requires that the light coming from the bulb is what they call “omni-directional,” which means it gives off light in every direction, which is especially important if you’re going to use it, let’s say, in a reading lamp.

    LESLIE: Well, that brings up a good point. How do you know which is the right bulb for the fixture that you’ve got? There’s so many options. So if I’ve got a table lamp that I want to dim or it’s in an area that I need a lot of options for, how do I know I’m choosing the right bulb?

    CELIA: Well, I think there are some things that you want to know. And we’ve talked about – in our publications and on our website, we have a lot of information on matching the bulb to the fixture. So if you’ve got a table or a floor lamp, you can either use a spiral CFL; you can also get a covered spiral CFL. So if you don’t like the swirly look of the CFL, you can get one that’s covered so it looks like a more traditional bulb. You can get an LED bulb or you can get a halogen bulb. So there’s all different kinds that you can get.

    I would want to think about for those things is do – is it an area that you need instant full brightness? So, if this is a light that you have in your hallway and it’s the only light in your hallway or a stairway, you may not want to use a CFL in that instance, because it’s not going to have full brightness as soon as you turn the light on. That might be someplace you want to go with a halogen bulb or an LED bulb.

    TOM: Celia Kuperszmid-Lehrman from Consumer Reports, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Terrific information.

    CELIA: Oh, it’s my pleasure.

    TOM: Consumer Reports is on newsstands now or you can visit their website at ConsumerReports.org.

    LESLIE: A beautiful bookshelf can become a terrible disaster quickly if it’s not anchored correctly to your wall. We’re going to tell you how to reinforce your walls for this project, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    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.

    Give us a call this hour at 888-MONEY-PIT because one caller is going to get a winter’s supply – a winter’s supply – of Morton Safe-T-Pet. It’s a great salt because it’s chloride-free and it’s an ice melt that you can safely use around your pets. It’s not going to harm their paws or their skin or their eyes. And it’s a prize pack worth $60. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Roy in Colorado is on the line with a heating question. How can we help you today?

    ROY: I’ve got a question on kind of the efficiencies for blocking off vents versus using space heaters?

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    ROY: I’ve got a three – well, two-story with a basement. And one of the kids is downstairs in the basement, in a room, and another one upstairs. And they use space heaters. I’ve turned the temperature of the house down enough that they feel the need to use the space heaters. I was wondering if it’s – if I use too many space heaters, is it better to just crank up the thermostat a couple degrees?

    TOM: Yeah. What kind of heat do you have? Is it gas?

    ROY: It’s a gas furnace.

    TOM: Yeah. And the space heaters are electric, I presume?

    ROY: Yes, electric.

    TOM: Well …

    LESLIE: They’re going to be pretty expensive.

    TOM: Yeah. I mean if you’re going to run several of them, you’re better off running the furnace – the gas furnace – because the cost of the heat will overall be probably a lot less expensive.

    ROY: Because it’s – they’re running two of them; it’s just two bedrooms.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, plus, I don’t like the idea of kids and space heaters unless it’s a real good-quality …

    ROY: Well, they’re adult kids.

    TOM: Oh, they’re adult kids? OK.

    ROY: Yeah. They’re …

    LESLIE: Tom, I wonder, is this a good application for that kilowatt tool where you can sort of plug that into the device to see how much wattage the actual space heater would be using, so you could get like an educated determination?

    TOM: You could but actually, if you simply knew the wattage, you could figure it out. But yeah, it’s pretty expensive to run those all the time. So I would suspect that, in this case, rather than run several space heaters, that you’d be better off turning the heat up a bit.

    ROY: And then we can all – I …

    TOM: Everyone can enjoy. Either that or make the kids move out.

    LESLIE: You can hang your sweater back up.

    ROY: Yeah, exactly.

    TOM: Alright?

    ROY: OK.

    TOM: Well, if one of your favorite winter pastimes is to curl up with a good book, you probably have a bookshelf or two hanging around to store those books upon.

    Now, bookshelves can be a great décor item but they can easily tip over if they’re not anchored properly. To do this, you’re going to need a stud finder and a set of 3-inch drywall screws. Just mark the studs on the wall, position your bookshelf and screw through the bookshelf and into the studs themselves. Make sure you don’t hit the wall. Make sure you hit the beams or the studs behind the wall so the bookshelf cannot tip over.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you can mark a spot on the shelf that’s 16 inches to one side of your first screw and then drill another screw there. You want to keep doing this every 16 inches until you’ve covered the width of the shelf. Now, 16 inches because that is the distance between studs.

    If you space this out correctly, you’re probably going to get about three screws per bookshelf and that really should be enough to keep your shelves safe and secure.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Call us with your next home improvement project. We are here to help.

    LESLIE: Janet in Maryland is on the line with an insulation question. Tell us what’s going on.

    JANET: Yes. My house was built in the 50s. It’s stucco with cinder-block walls. And when I had the sheetrock replaced, there really was no insulation, so I don’t know if it can be blown in. I was told nothing could be done. There’s some little – it’s a one-and-a-half-story bungalow. There’s some loose insulation in the eaves in the attic and I really don’t see anything on the exterior walls.

    TOM: OK. So, with a house, you want to make sure that you insulate in the right order and the order would be the attic first. Now, you mentioned it does have some insulation.

    LESLIE: Put the hat on your head.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. Put the hat on the head.

    JANET: OK.

    TOM: You want to make sure – you said it has some insulation. How many inches of insulation do you think you have in the attic right now, Janet?

    JANET: Probably like two or three; it doesn’t look like a whole lot.

    TOM: Oh, my God. That’s nothing.

    JANET: It’s real loose.

    TOM: OK. Do you know how much you’re going to – you really need?

    JANET: No.

    TOM: You need 19 to 22 inches of insulation.

    JANET: OK.

    TOM: So you should forget totally about these walls; your problem is overhead.

    JANET: OK.

    TOM: You need to get as much insulation in that attic as you possibly can. A foot-and-a-half is what we’re looking for and up. And when you do that, you’re going to see an amazing reduction in your energy bills: amazing. Because you have next to nothing right now. You’re like sleeping outside with a sheet on, you know?

    JANET: Oh, geez. OK. OK.

    TOM: You need heavy blankets, honey, to make this work for you.

    JANET: Do I buy the roll? The pink roll?

    TOM: Yes, absolutely. The pink roll: the Owens Corning. You could buy the rolls or buy the loose batts and you want to put – first you fill in between the floor joists.

    LESLIE: And you want to get unfaced.

    TOM: Yep, unfaced insulation. You fill in between the floor joists. Then you put a second layer on top of that, perpendicular to the floor joists, until you build up enough insulation.

    JANET: OK, OK.

    TOM: And you’re going to find an amazing change in how warm and comfy your house gets as a result of that.

    JANET: OK, great. Great.

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

    This is a very typical question that we got on the show, Leslie. Folks don’t know where to put those energy dollars first. And you’ve got, like in her case, almost zero insulation in the attic.

    You should just forget about the outside walls; that’s not your problem. Your problem is the attic.

    LESLIE: Right. It really is. You put a hat on your head, it keeps the warmth in your body. So it’s the same for your home. You really need to think about working from the top down. And I think people forget that over time, there’s so much settling that you do either need to replace or add so that you meet that R-value.

    TOM: Absolutely. So, hopefully we got Janet straightened out.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Have you ever wondered how much is too much when it comes to overloading an electrical outlet? We’re going to tell you about those dangers, after this.

    (theme song)

    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: Where home solutions live, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Welcome back. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Did you guys make a New Year’s resolution this year and was it to save more money?

    TOM: Of course. Same resolution every year.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And mine’s always to be nicer to my husband and save more money.

    TOM: How does that work out?

    LESLIE: Well, we usually get to January 10 and then it all goes downhill.

    Well, The Money Pit can help you do that: save money, not be nicer to your spouse. Just go to MoneyPit.com and search “saving energy.” You’re going to get tips on saving water and power and keeping your heat inside, all in one convenient click.

    TOM: And speaking of power, Louis posted in The Money Pit community: “I have only two outlets in my home office. With all my computer equipment, I have about a million things plugged into two surge protectors coming out of those outlets. How much can one outlet handle? Do I need an electrician to get more outlets installed?”

    So, two issues here. First of all, do you have enough physical outlets to power all of your gadgets? And with those two surge protectors, perhaps you do. The question is how much can the outlet handle? Depends on the size of the circuit that it’s installed to.

    Now, most circuits – we call them branch-circuit wiring. The branch circuits typically are 15-amp circuits and they are made of Number-14 wire and 15 amps is all a Number-14 wire can handle. So that means that if you plug in too many things and assuming you have the proper-size fuse or circuit breaker on there, the circuit will pop.

    So if your circuits are not popping and it’s properly fused or circuit-breakered, then you’re probably OK as long as you don’t mind the inconvenience of all of the power strips that you have plugged into that. If you want to make it a little more convenient, what you could do is get a different kind of power strip.

    For example, I’ve got a table in my basement that’s got a number of computers plugged into it because they’re servers. And we have a power strip that’s about probably 6 feet long but it just has one plug in it and it’s got plenty of outlets. So the number of outlets really depends on how many you need for convenience. The amount of power depends on the size of the circuit and the size of the circuit breaker.

    LESLIE: Alright, Louis. Good luck with your home-office project.

    TOM: Well, you’re looking to make Game Day an unforgettable experience? Leslie has got some entertaining tips on how to do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, it really doesn’t matter which team you’re rooting for as long as you’ve got wings. But you can score a victory with your guests if you’ve got a few fun gadgets and wings.

    Now, you’ve probably got a Twitter fanatic among your friends and family that are coming over for your Super Bowl party. And you can offer them a treat by setting up a sofa-side laptop station, like with the old TV trays. This way, they’ve got it all right there. They can tweet what’s going on in the game and post to Facebook and do whatever the heck they want to do to stay socially involved during these games.

    TOM: And you know what else? When we watch the games, we keep the laptop on and tuned in, because you can get lots and lots of stats on a live, ongoing basis.

    LESLIE: Yeah, we have a friend who always comes over who’s our stat guy.

    TOM: Yeah, exactly. So, you have all the technology there, you can really enjoy the game.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what else is kind of fun and a good thought? You can keep an automatic air freshener in your bathroom. This way, nobody’s got to worry about anything when they’re going in to do their business.

    And if you’re expecting a really big crowd, have you ever heard of a PortaJane? Now, I didn’t know that this is what they were really called but it’s a far cry from an outdoor Porta-Potty, because it’s portable, it’s fully-decorated. It’s a restroom that you can rent and they even have sinks with running water. I mean it’s a really cool idea if you’re having a large group of people over to your house.

    We’ve got a ton more gadgets that’ll help you with your game-day entertaining at MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show available 24-7, 365 by picking up the phone and calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio when you make that call, we will call you back the next time we are.

    And speaking about the next time we do this show, we’re going to talk about cracks in your home’s foundations. Sometimes, they can be serious but how do you know if it’s cosmetic, if it’s a small crack or if it’s a serious foundation flaw? We’ll teach you, 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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