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How Much Insulation is Best, Do Energy Efficient Washers and Dryers Save Money and How to Flood Proof Your Home

  • Transcript

    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are so glad to be here with you today. What are you working on on this warm summer weekend? You working on a project inside your house, maybe enjoying some air conditioning? Are you enjoying a cool drink by the pool? What? You don’t have a pool? Hey, maybe that’s a project you’re thinking about now for next year. But whatever you’re working on, whatever to-do is on your list, we can help make it easier, make it quicker, make it faster, help you find the right products, the right projects, the right pros, the right advice to get the job done. But you’ve got to help yourself first by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s show, cooler weather is on the way and along with high heating bills, which is why now is really a good time to update your home’s insulation. But how much do you really need to make a difference? We’re going to have the answers just ahead.

    LESLIE: And energy-efficient washers and dryers can save you money but can they save you enough money to warrant their additional cost? We’ll tell you, in just a bit.

    TOM: Plus, late summer and early fall storms can be pretty damaging, which is why now is also a good time to make sure your house is storm-ready. We’re going to have tips on how you can do that, including how to make sure your below-grade spaces are flood-proof.

    LESLIE: And if you call us, right now, at 888-MONEY-PIT, you’re going to get the answer to your home improvement question. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a great prize to one caller drawn at random. It’s the Ring Video Doorbell Pro and that’s a prize worth $249.

    TOM: Yep. It lets you see and speak with visitors at your door, from anywhere, using your smartphone, your tablet or your computer. With Ring, you’re always home. The Ring Video Doorbell is available at The Home Depot but we’ve got one to give away this hour. So call us right now. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Laura in Connecticut is on the line and wants to rearrange the kitchen. How can we help you?

    LAURA: It’s an old house. The house is 100-plus. And right underneath the kitchen floor, there is a portion of the floor that doesn’t have a beam under it. But we would like to put an appliance there. We would like to place an appliance there. So, we just need something that would just support it gently, just in case too much weight.

    TOM: So, I mean generally speaking, floor structures are designed to hold a refrigerator. They’re not that heavy. If you wanted to beef up the structure of that area, your kitchen already has existing floor joists. So the girder will go perpendicular to those. It’s not a true girder in the sense that it wouldn’t be supported with its own foundation.

    But what sometimes many folks will do is they’ll put a girder-like beam underneath those floor joists, on some Lally columns, maybe support it by a very small foundation that might be a 1-foot-by-1-foot-square pour of concrete, so that you can kind of take the bounce out of the middle of those beams.

    Sometimes, if you have long beams in a house or long floor joists in a house, you’ll get kind of a bounce when you walk across the floor. And that can make it feel weak, even though maybe it’s not, but it just has more flex than you’re accustomed to. So putting in the additional beam perpendicular to the floor joists can eliminate that. It’s not going to hold up more than that beam, so it doesn’t need to be substantially supported. But I think, still, you could do – a carpenter could do a good, clean job and give you that additional support that’s going to make you feel comfortable. Does that make sense?

    LAURA: Oh, yes, it does. OK. Now, if there is a dirt floor, would it be wise to put down a cement foundation?

    TOM: So you wouldn’t – you would support it by columns and the bottom of the column would be supported by concrete, not necessarily a complete floor. But what, generally, you’ll do is dig out maybe a 1-foot-by-1-foot-square hole, fill that up with concrete and have the column sit right on top of that.

    Again, it’s not the same kind of foundation that you would use to put a beam up that was holding up the entire house. But what you’re really doing here is just sort of taking the bounce out of that floor. You’re giving it a little bit of additional support.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Abram in Arizona is on the line looking to run a gas line for a dryer. How can we help you?

    ABRAM: I have a home that has an electric outlet for the dryer.

    TOM: OK.

    ABRAM: But I want to run a gas line to it because I have a gas dryer. I’m in Goodyear, Arizona, so it’s not like I desperately need a dryer. I could just set it out in the …

    TOM: Yeah, right. Exactly.

    ABRAM: And it will dry. But I would like to run a gas line for the heat versus using the electric.

    TOM: Now, does the house already have gas hooked up to it?

    ABRAM: Yes. The hot-water heater and the kitchen both have gas.

    TOM: OK. So, running a gas pipe, you know, is generally a job for a plumber. Because if you get it wrong, you could cause a serious issue. But essentially, what you’re going to need to do is to tap into that existing gas line at the place that it makes the most sense to do that, depending on the layout of the line. You’re going to need to obviously have a valve before that so you can do this work or you can turn the gas off at the meter to do the work. And then you’re going to have a valve at the end of it. And then you’re going to have a flex gas line that goes from that valve into the dryer itself.

    So, it’s not a terribly complicated project to do but if you’ve not worked with gas piping before, it’s not the kind of job that I would generally recommend be your first do-it-yourself project because the danger of it, getting it wrong.

    ABRAM: OK, OK. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Take care, sir. 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.

    Holy moly, you guys. Summer is just about officially done. We’ve got Labor Day really sneaking up on us. So let’s get home improvement projects done before the dreaded F-word arrives. I’m talking fall with all of the improvements that go along with that season. We’re here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still to come, if you’re getting a shiver down your spine just thinking of last year’s heating bills, now is the perfect time to update your home’s insulation. But how much insulation do you really need to make a difference? Well, like many things in life, Leslie, the answer is it depends, right? We’re going to have those details, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by QUIKRETE Concrete and Cement Products. QUIKRETE, what America is made of. Like us on Facebook and visit online at www.QUIKRETE.com for product information and easy, step-by-step project videos.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: So glad you’re here with us today. Hey, if you give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, we’d love to answer your home improvement or home décor question. Plus, you’re going to get a chance to win a great product that we’re giving away this hour. It’s the Ring Video Doorbell Pro.

    This is a cool thing because it lets you see and speak with visitors at your door, from anywhere, using your smartphone, your tablet or your computer. Basically, somebody walks up to your door, presses the Ring Video Doorbell and on your smartphone pops their picture. Doesn’t matter if you’re home, if you’re at the beach or you’re on the other side of the country. You can literally see who’s coming up to your house wherever you are.

    Comes equipped with an HD camera with night vision. It’s got a built-in, two-way speaker so you can talk to whoever’s at your front door. And it’s got smart motion detection. Just download the free Ring app to connect it to Wi-Fi. You’ll start receiving alerts on your smart device whenever someone rings the door or motion is detected.

    It’s worth 249 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random. You can learn more at Ring.com. But if you’d like to win that prize, pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Linda on the line calling in from Florida. How can we help you today?

    LINDA: I have a cement floor that was originally stained. And then it was painted over with supposedly a really good stuff. And now, not doing well. And we want to take care of it but we don’t want to have to remove all that’s there. We just want to know if you have something we could put over it that will – it has heavy machinery in it and there’s gas and oil and all that sort of stuff there.

    TOM: So this is where? In the garage?

    LINDA: Actually it’s in a hangar.

    TOM: Oh, it’s in a hangar? Oh, OK.

    LINDA: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Yeah. So, usually, the best kind of floor for an industrial location like that is epoxy paint. And the way epoxy paint works is it’s a two-part paint. So when you purchase it, it probably comes in larger quantities, depending on how many square feet you want to apply. But typically, for a house, it would come in a gallon-size container. Except that when you open the gallon up, it’s only filled up about three-quarters of the way because you also get a quart of hardener. And the idea is you mix the two together. And then the chemical reaction is what gives you the durability and the drying of that epoxy surface.

    Now, because it was stained I’m not as concerned. Because it was painted, you will need to at least get off any loose paint material that’s there now. Because if you put good paint over bad paint, you’re still going to have flaking. Because the bad paint acts kind of as the Teflon there and it won’t let the new paint get into the floor itself. So you are going to have to pressure-wash that floor, you’re going to have to abrade that floor. You’ve got to get as much of that old paint off as you can so that you have a good surface.

    But I think the solution is epoxy paint. And they also have sort of a coloring fleck that can be added to that paint that gives it kind of a texture and helps sort of hide the dirt. So if you’re looking for a reasonably easy, inexpensive way to give that floor a whole new look and new life, I would recommend epoxy paint.

    LINDA: Well, thank you so much. I enjoy listening to you.

    TOM: Well, thank you, Linda. We appreciate the call, 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: David in Delaware is on the line with an HVAC conundrum. What is going on at your money pit?

    DAVID: I’ve been in this house for 29 years. I was the original owner. And I live in a two-story house. And on the second story, I’ve always had two roofs that were too hot in the summertime and too cold in the wintertime. So the first thing I did to the whole house was replace all the windows. It didn’t help it. Three years ago, I replaced my heat pump and got a bigger unit. Helped it out a little bit but not a whole lot.

    And then after I forgot my solar panels, the guys came in and did a leak test on my house. And they said the house is good and tight but the guys said that most of your cold-air return is being sucked up in the basement. So I’ve got some big-time leaks down there. So, after looking around down there, the guy also clued me into that my cold-air return ducts they used or they did back in the day – your studs going up through the walls and the rafters in the basement …

    TOM: Right. They used that as the duct itself. It basically used the stud bay as the duct.

    DAVID: So where I found my problem to be is the main trunk of the cold-air return. They just kind of cut a great, big hole in it. And then they raised the trunk up to the floor joists. Well, I’ve got gaping holes up where the trunk does not hit the joists. And that’s on four different joists that I need to try to seal that up. And it’s in a bad spot to get to. And I was wondering, do you have any ideas?

    TOM: So, yeah, first of all, duct sealing itself and leaky ducts are responsible for probably more energy loss than almost anything else in a forced-air system. Now, there’s a number of ways that you can attack this. You can do it sort of structurally and mechanically, where you try to get to every one of these ducts and try to repair it so it doesn’t have the leaks. Or you can do it with a product called Aeroseal.

    Aeroseal is a product that’s sprayed into the duct system and basically sticks to the inside of the ducts, completely sealing them. And it’s designed to basically look for the gaps and then build up where the air is escaping in those gaps. And it makes the entire system much more efficient.

    There’s a great video on this on ThisOldHouse.com. If you Google “This Old House” and “Aeroseal” – A-e-r-o-s-e-a-l – you’ll find that video. And you can kind of understand the whole story.

    But basically, once it’s applied, it completely seals both the return and the supply ducts. And it might be just the ticket that you need to get this house working again. Because you’re right: if you don’t have proper air returns – you know, heating-and-cooling systems work not by just dumping cold air or warm air into the room, they work by recirculating air. Because it takes many passes of that air through the room to get it to the temperature that you want it to be. And if they’re full of holes, it’s just not going to work right.

    So, take a look at Aeroseal. I think that might be the solution to your problem.

    DAVID: And on your online thing, it’ll show how do apply it and how to do it?

    TOM: It’s professionally applied. It’s not a do-it-yourself project. It requires special tools.

    DAVID: Oh, professionally.

    TOM: Yeah. And you’re better off doing it that way. This way, you know that it’s done right and all of those gaps are sealed. But I think it’ll make a big difference.

    DAVID: I appreciate your help.

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

    Well, whether you are renovating an existing room or expanding an addition or building a brand-new home, choosing both the right insulation and the right amount of insulation is important in maintaining your comfort and energy efficiency. And now is a great time of year to be planning this project.

    LESLIE: Yeah, when you’re shopping for insulation, the first thing you need to understand is that it’s measured in R-value. Now, R-value is a measure of the insulation’s ability to resist heat travelling through it. So the higher the R-value, the better the insulation.

    TOM: Next, the amount of insulation you need in your attic varies by where you live. Now, the Department of Energy has a chart that divides the country into eight zones. But to make this easy, five of these zones pretty much specify the same thing, so it’s kind of a good average. And the list recommends an R-value for those zones of 38 to 60.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But what does that mean in terms of thickness of the insulation itself? So, when it comes to fiberglass, the R-value is about 3 per inch, which means you’re going to need about 15 to 20 inches of fiberglass. But it’s not the same for all kinds of insulation.

    TOM: Yeah, good point. So, for example, in my home, I have Icynene Foam Insulation, which has an R-value of more than twice that of fiberglass. And that means I need about half the thickness to do the same job.

    So, for more tips, you can also download our free e-book, The Money Pit Guide to Insulation. About 10 pages there of great tips on how to choose the right insulation and the right amounts for your home. It’s online, right now, and it’s free at MoneyPit.com.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Rich in Kentucky on the line who’s dealing with a condensation issue.

    Rich, how can we help you?

    RICH: Went in the crawlspace last year to run some wire and I got all this water. And it’s on the heating and air ducts. And it’s nice, fresh, clean water dripping on the vapor barrier. When I bought the house, the two vents that are down there are blocked. Or they might have done that when they put in the radon vapor-barrier system.

    So, basically, I was mopping it up with a towel and putting it in the bucket to get it out of there and …

    TOM: This is a crawlspace that’s unfinished and you have a radon ventilation system in the crawlspace or it’s a basement?

    RICH: The radon’s in the basement but I thought there was a tube going into the …

    TOM: OK. Because typically – here’s what you’re going to do. With a radon system, the basement, if it’s finishable, it’s going to be sealed and have a ventilation system installed into it. The crawlspace is usually – you never put a radon system in a crawlspace because a crawlspace is always vented.

    And if the crawlspace is open to the basement then, if anything, you might seal off the space between the crawlspace and the basement to create two separate and distinct areas that have their respective levels of ventilation. Does that make sense?

    RICH: Yeah, I think it’s pretty much blocked off. I guess the radon doesn’t go in there then.

    TOM: So now, let’s talk about your moisture problem. Now, what you’re seeing in the ductwork is condensation, because the ducts get cold when you run air conditioning. And you have warm, moist air in the crawlspace area and that condenses on the outside surfaces of the ducts and they drain. Basically, they drip.

    So, what can you do about that? Couple of things. First of all, we can take some steps to reduce the amount of humidity that you have in the crawlspace. So how do we do that? Well, number one, I want you to look at your gutters outside. Make sure that the gutters are clean, free-flowing and discharging away from the house. We want no water collecting anywhere near the first 4 to 6 feet away from that foundation.

    LESLIE: Because that’s just going to find its way right back into your crawlspace.

    TOM: Exactly. Big U-turn.

    RICH: OK.

    TOM: Then, look at the slope of the soil and make sure that the soil slopes away. And make sure the gutters are finally clean. So, if all that water from the rain is moving away from the house, that’s good.

    The next thing that you can do is you can make – that those ventilate – that those vents are open in the crawlspace. And then thirdly, you can add a dehumidifier. Take a look at the Santa Fe dehumidifiers. They’re best in the business. They are ENERGY STAR-rated, so they’re not going to cost you an arm and a leg to operate and they’re going to totally dry out that crawlspace. And then the fourth thing that you can do is insulate the ducts.

    So, drainage on the outside, open up the vents, get a Santa Fe dehumidifier and then insulate the ducts. And that will stop the problem.

    LESLIE: Alright. Thanks so much for calling The Money Pit.

    Up next, high-efficiency washers are more popular than ever. And ENERGY STAR-certified clothes dryer can actually cut your energy by an impressive 20 percent. But are these more efficient and might I say, more expensive washers and dryers a smart buy? We’ll tell you how to sort it all out, after this.

    JONATHAN: Hey this is Jonathan Scott, host of HGTV’s Property Brothers. And you’re listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Pavestone’s easy-to-stack RumbleStone Rustic Building Blocks. Create any outdoor hardscape you can imagine, to instantly add old-world charm. Available at The Home Depot. For more information and product instructions, visit Pavestone.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: Here’s a quick tip for those of you that like to take things apart and put them back together. Have you ever tried to take out something only to find out you turned the screw or the bolts the wrong way? Happens pretty frequently if you don’t do this a lot. But there is a trick of the trade. Simply remember righty-tighty and lefty-loosey. That’s how you remember which way to turn the screw, right?

    LESLIE: That’s true.

    TOM: To the right to tighten it and to the left to loosen it. Righty-tighty, lefty-loosey and you will always be right as rain.

    888-666-3974. Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Laurie in California, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    LAURIE: I am trying to put a freestanding deck in my backyard. And my backyard has blackberry bushes in it, so I have to get rid of the blackberry bushes first.

    TOM: Right.

    LAURIE: And I don’t want them to, you know, grow back up through the deck.

    TOM: OK.

    LAURIE: So how could I do that?

    TOM: Well, they’re probably not going to grow through the deck, because the deck is going to block all sunlight to it. That said, as you prep the soil, what you’re going to want to do is – obviously, you have to build footings for this, right? So you build the footings and then you take off whatever the top surface is there, if there’s grass, whatever. And then you lay down weed block – which is sort of this black, burlap-y kind of fabric. And you lay that down underneath the deck and then you can go ahead and frame over that.

    What you might end up doing is do the framing and then kind of lay the fabric down at the very last minute because, frankly, it’s kind of hard to walk on it while you’re framing this deck. So you might end up even putting the floor joists down, then lay the fabric under it, then finish it off. And that’ll help slow down anything that wants to come up right away.

    But I think that once this deck is built, it’s going to be so dark under there that you’re not going to have problems with the blackberry bushes coming up through the deck. It certainly would come around it but not through it.

    LAURIE: OK. Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, closing the refrigerator door and turning off the lights can save power and cash but your home’s real energy-suckers live in your laundry room. Standard clothes dryers can use more power than a refrigerator.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. And while high-efficiency washers are on the rise and even ENERGY STAR-certified dryers can cut energy use by about 20 percent, are these more efficient and more expensive appliances really a smart buy? Here to help wash through the details is Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House.

    Welcome, Richard.

    RICHARD: Hi, guys. It is great to be back with you.

    TOM: So these energy-efficient washers, they’ve been around for a while. Dryers are kind of just on the market now, I guess, a couple of years with the ENERGY STAR-rating. They’re a little more expensive. Are they really worth it? Are we going to get the return on investment in savings and performance?

    RICHARD: Well, Tom, let me give you that standard answer.

    TOM: Which is?

    RICHARD: It depends.

    LESLIE: Terrible.

    RICHARD: But even if this isn’t the perfect time or the exact time to buy, there’s a great chance that these appliances will be worth your while in the next years. They’re getting better every single day.

    TOM: OK. Let’s start by talking about how exactly they work. How do we get more efficiency out of a washer, for example?

    RICHARD: On the washer side, the high-efficiency washers, they spin faster, they use much less water to start with and then they can wring more water out of the load for shorter cycles. And that means less energy use. Front loaders are still the most popular but top loaders are gaining some momentum.

    TOM: Now, what about the dryer? I guess if we pulled more moisture out, we’ve already made the dryer most efficient. But what about the way the dryer actually heats the remaining moisture? Has that become more efficient?

    RICHARD: Well, I think the high-efficiency dryers, now they have moisture sensors that really work nowadays. They’ve always had moisture sensors but this one, when the clothes get dry, it’ll indeed shut off. And that means you’re not going to over-dry and waste that energy. It shuts the dryer off automatically. They also combine traditional vented heat – the gas or electric – with a heat pump.

    Now, a heat pump sort of uses less electricity to extract heat and move it through the dryer. And that really cuts cost and energy output.

    TOM: Now that actually uses some of the exhaust heat. It kind of recycles it, right?

    RICHARD: That’s right. Yeah, yeah. And that’s the future. We’ve got to find ways to move heat versus try to make heat.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But in saving energy, are you sacrificing any quality?

    RICHARD: You know, reviews for all the high-efficiency stuff, like any new technology, they’ve been positive. But high-efficiency dryers require a little longer drying time. Some people get upset about that. They’ve been looking at their watch and trying to change the load. And there’s also more air that’s going to be vented out from the house. Remember, you’re taking air from inside the building and pushing it out through that dryer, so some of that air is the same air that you paid to heat and to coo. But that’s a small price to pay, in my opinion.

    TOM: So losing a little bit of that conditioned air that you’ve already run through your system.

    RICHARD: Yeah. That’s right, that’s right.

    TOM: Now, I think when it comes time to buying anything efficient, frankly, these days, whether it’s windows or appliances, there’s a lot of competing claims on what’s going to be efficient, what’s going to save you money, what’s going to deliver comfort. Any way to kind of sort through that when it comes to these appliances?

    RICHARD: Well, it’s not a perfect science but one place I would start is that big, yellow label that sits on every single appliance, that EnergyGuide label. It’s helpful, at least, in a relative sense that it’s not going to tell you exactly how much you’ll use for this particular dryer or washer. But it would tell you how much you would use for this washer in relation to a standard one or some other model. So at least it’s relational, which is pretty good.

    TOM: So you can use it to compare and contrast?

    RICHARD: Yep. So as washers go, the front loaders are going to spin fastest, they’re the most efficient and they’re great on clothes but they shake more. You’ve seen some of these things shake like crazy.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Move right across the room.

    RICHARD: So you’ve got to shim them, you’ve got to make sure there’s anti-vibration pads. And the top loaders cost about 200 bucks less but they do save less energy.

    LESLIE: And I like this whole concept of labor-savers when it comes to appliances. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because that kind of puts you in charge of how much the expense is going to be for that wash.

    RICHARD: Right. Both on washing machines and dishwashers nowadays, you’ve got delayed start settings, you’ve got the quick-wash cycles, all these little things that you can sort of customize. You’re not running a full load with all of this wasted water and stuff like that. And it really can make you control how much energy you’re using.

    TOM: And especially if you are living in an area where you have sort of a tiered cost for your electricity, you could run these appliances in the middle of the night when the cost of energy is least.

    RICHARD: Yeah, yeah. I think that’s going to be a bigger issue. People don’t even know that there’s different rates for electricity and I think it’s going to be a bigger story.

    TOM: So, bottom line, if you need a new appliance now, buy ENERGY STAR? Buy efficiency?

    RICHARD: It’s like – to me, it’s like paying for storage on your computer. I think you buy as high efficiency as you can afford and I think it’s worth it in the long run.

    TOM: Makes sense. Richard Trethewey, the plumbing-and-heating contractor on TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    RICHARD: Great to be back.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can catch the current season of This Old House and Ask This Old House on PBS. For local listings and step-by-step videos of many common home improvement projects, visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    TOM: And Ask This Old House is brought to you on PBS by Gorilla Glue. For the toughest jobs on Planet Earth.

    Up next, storms that pop up in late summer and early fall can be most severe and most damaging. We’ll have tips to help you stay storm-ready, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by the Generac iQ2000 Portable Inverter Generator. Quiet, portable power anywhere, from home to the jobsite, campsite, tailgating and more. Money Pit listeners who call 800-965-1172 or visit GeneracIQ.com will receive free shipping and a free copy of Tom and Leslie’s book to the first 100 who order. That’s 800-965-1172 or GeneracIQ.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.

    Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. You will get the answer to your home improvement questions. Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a really cool, high-tech prize, especially if you’re not home a lot. We’ve got up for grabs the Ring Video Doorbell Pro.

    Now, what happens with this amazing doorbell is that you can actually see and speak with whoever is visiting at your door, from anywhere in the world, just by your smartphone or your tablet or your computer. And it comes with some advanced features, such as crystal-clear 1080p high-def video, advanced motion detection and two-way talk. So you guys can talk to each other and you can see whoever is at your front door but they can’t see that you’re on the beach somewhere in the Caribbean or at your office. That’s pretty amazing.

    And it comes with four interchangeable faceplates, so you’re going to have the perfect match for your home. It’s got a weather-resistant design, which really will be helpful if you’ve got rain and sleet and snow and heat. Check it out online. It’s a really cool system. It’s Ring.com. It’s a prize valued at $249 but it’s going out to one lucky caller drawn at random.

    TOM: That number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    So, a few weeks ago, I was on Fox & Friends demoing some of the most innovative home improvement products on the market. And I featured a really neat, new generator called the Generac iQ2000 Portable Inverter Generator.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, I saw that too, Tom, and I really liked it. I mean think about it: I’ve always got my two kids with me and we’ve always got a ton of stuff, so if I’m looking for a portable generator, it’s got to be small and it’s got to be easy to carry around. This really is the size of a small suitcase and it’s got an ultra-lightweight design. So I can pretty much bring the power wherever I need it.

    TOM: Yeah, like tailgating parties or camping trips or going to the beach, you name it. There’s lots of reasons why we like this product. But I guess my top three would be the fact that it’s really quiet – it’s the quietest portable inverter generator in its class; it’s smart – it’s got this thing called a “smart LED dashboard” that shows the fuel level, the runtime, the wattage use and the generator status; and it’s really easy to use. All the controls are sort of morphed into this one dial called the “power dial.” It integrates their start, the run, the stop functions into one easy-to-use dial.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Now, if you’d like to check out the Generac iQ, just go to GeneracIQ.com. And hey, there’s also a very special offer available now, exclusively for all Money Pit listeners interested in purchasing a Generac iQ.

    TOM: Yep. If you go to GeneracIQ.com or you call them at 800-965-1172, you can receive free shipping on a new Generac iQ2000. Plus, the first 100 folks to order one, they’re also going to get a free copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You will absolutely love this generator. But remember, the only – and I do mean only – way to get free shipping and a free copy of our book is to visit GeneracIQ.com or call 800-965-1172. The number, again – write it down, guys – is 800-965-1172.

    TOM: The Generac iQ2000 is quieter, smarter and it beats Honda. There’s no other way to get the free shipping and free book, though. You must go to GeneracIQ.com or call them at 800-965-1172. The offer is valid right now, so don’t delay. Visit Generac.com or call 800-965-1172 right now.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Bill in Tennessee on the line who needs help with some sinkholes.

    Bill, tell us what’s going on.

    BILL: I’ve got a patio in the backyard and at the end of my patio, I’ve got two huge sinkholes and then another sinkhole at the corner of my house. And this has been going on for about a year, year-and-a-half. They’re about 5 feet deep and, I don’t know, the circumference of about a manhole cover.

    And just wanted to know what’s the cheapest and best way to take care of it where it doesn’t keep on happening. My patio is actually cracking where it’s sinking down a little bit.

    TOM: So over the course of a year, these holes have revealed themselves?

    BILL: For about the last year-and-a-half is when they started happening.

    TOM: So very slowly but surely. And how old is this house?

    BILL: About 15 years old.

    TOM: Well, I mean it could be the result of loose fill that was put in these areas around the house when the home was finished – created, when it was done.

    BILL: Right.

    TOM: It could be the result of that. It could also be the result of some decaying material, like old trees or things like that that are in there.

    Do you have any concern about it continuing to happen or do you think it’s pretty much done?

    BILL: It’s pretty much done, it looks like and …

    TOM: So what I would do is I would fill those areas with clean fill dirt and that’s the most inexpensive dirt that you can buy. And then you want to tamp it down really well. So you put a little bit in, you tamp it, you put some more in, you tamp it. And then you finish it off with topsoil. And because it’s a sunken area, I would almost overfill it a little bit, because it’s going to settle down flat.

    BILL: And what if it – like a year from now, it starts happening again?

    TOM: Yeah, well, if that’s the case and it starts happening again, then at that point I would have to recommend that you got an engineer in to take a look at it, to see if we could figure out what was going on with the soils. You may need to do some borings around there to try to determine what’s in the ground and why it’s sinking.

    BILL: OK. Well, that sounds great.

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead, do you ever wish your house could dust itself? I know I sure as heck do. I feel like every time I turn around, I’m dusting something. Well, we’re going to tell you how you can cut down on dust and maybe improve your home’s air quality, too, when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues after this.

    ANNOUNCER: Today’s Money Pit is presented by Haier, the world’s number-one appliance brand. Stay cool this summer with a Haier Serenity Series Air Conditioner. Quieter than the average window air conditioners, yet cool your home effectively and efficiently. Learn more at HaierAmerica.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: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, with your home improvement project at 888-MONEY-PIT or post your question in our Community section online, like Maggie did.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And Maggie writes: “When I dust my house in the evening, everything is covered again by the next morning. Could the problem be stemming from our heat-pump system? We’ve had the unit thoroughly cleaned inside and out but it doesn’t seem to help.”

    TOM: Could have dusty kids.

    LESLIE: You could just have a dirty house or maybe you have a child named Pig-Pen.

    TOM: Nah. I would consider looking at your filters. You might want to upgrade or add filters to your HVAC system to reduce that dust problem, improve the indoor-air quality.

    Now, there’s a wide range of filters that are available. Some of them are very inexpensive but they don’t really trap very much. You want to look for one that’s really going to do a good job of keeping out dust. Some of the Filtrete filters, for example, do a pretty good job of keeping out excess dust and allergies.

    Now, if you want to keep out a maximum amount of dirt, debris and dust, what you really should be turning to is something called an “electronic air cleaner.” This actually can remove even virus-sized particles. It’s mounted on a return duct and it protects your home form mold and pollen and dust. And it’ll really, really do a good job.

    So those are your options. But I’m sure that it stems from the quality of filter in the system. Get a better one and you will cut way back on your house-dusting.

    LESLIE: So, Tom, when you’re upgrading your filter without adding this electronic air cleaner, are we talking about just the filter that’s located at your return duct or are we talking about a filter that’s located more into your heating system itself?

    TOM: Now, that’s a good question because it could actually be in either location. Some heating systems have a return register that opens up on a hinge where the filter pops right in there. That’s the easiest. But most heating systems, you have to open up the blower compartment door, which is in the bottom of your furnace. And then there’s going to be a bracket there where you can install your filter.

    And keep in mind that when you put a new filter in, there’s going to be an arrow on the side of it. And that arrow is indicating the direction of airflow. If you put it in backwards, it won’t be as effective at keeping out the dust.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good point. Now we’ve got a post here from Brian who writes: “I recently lost power to two rooms in my house. A friend had me test a few things and he said that there’s a bad wire somewhere in the wiring. I would hire an electrician but we’re trying to save money right now, so I’m going to have to do this job myself. Is there a device I can use to test the wiring in the house to find this bad wire? Better yet, how should I go about doing this?”

    Oh, I feel like this is way too many questions for Brian to try to do the work himself.

    TOM: I think, based on the fact that he’s asking these questions, he’s probably disqualifying himself. I mean look, there’s a reason electricians work for several years before earning their licenses. Electrical work is hazardous, especially in a situation like yours where you’re trying to find kind of a needle in a haystack. So, while I can understand and appreciate your desire to save money by making this a DIY project, it’s probably not the kind of undertaking that I would recommend you try on your own, Brian.

    There is one simple thing that you can do before calling a pro and that’s to pick up an outlet tester. Outlet testers are inexpensive. They’re going to let you know whether at least your outlets are wired correctly and if the circuit you’re trying to figure out why you’ve lost power to is part of a ground-fault system. That’s the outlet that has sort of test and reset buttons in it. Make sure you’re resetting them, because anything that’s forward of that will be off if the ground fault is tripped. Hope that helps. Going to need to do a little bit more of detective work. But if it turns out you need a pro, go ahead and call one.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you know what, Brian? If you’ve got other electrical projects to have the electrician do, lump them all together because it ends up being more cost-effective that way.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air, online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, thanks so much for spending this hour with us. Hope we gave you some good ideas for this beautiful summer weekend. Remember, if you have a project to plan, you can always reach out to us on Facebook. And that web address is Facebook.com/MoneyPit. We would love to help you take on your next home improvement project.

    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 2016 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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