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How to Seal Drafts to Save Energy Dollars, How to Find Uncommon Sources for Air Leaks, Why Modular Home Construction is Helping Jersey Shore Rebuilding Efforts and more

  • Transcript

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Coming up this hour on the program, we’ve got tips to help you find those drafts that you probably didn’t even think of: for example, your attic access. That’s a really leaky spot. And if it’s not properly sealed, your heated air will escape by the second. We’ll tell you what to do, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And just because you live in a rental doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to cut your energy costs. We’ve got a list of temporary solutions for drafts that you can do, which is especially important if you are the one footing those heating and energy bills, coming up.

    TOM: And also ahead, what’s better: a factory-built, prefabricated home or one that’s built on site? We’re going to find out, when our behind-the-scenes coverage of This Old House: Jersey Shore Rebuilds continues this week, presented by Red Devil, as some along the Jersey Shore are actually turning to these prefabricated homes to help them get back on their feet.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away the Wagner Flexio Power Sprayer worth $149, which is going to make any painting project go quick and easy.

    TOM: So, give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Sarah in Iowa needs some help with a carpeting project. Tell us what you’re working on.

    SARAH: I have a house built in 1975. And when it was built, they installed this carpet in the breakfast, kitchen and unfortunately, bathroom areas. And it’s glued down. It’s really low pile, almost like linoleum.

    TOM: Is it on a wood floor or is it concrete?

    SARAH: It’s on – just on the wood subfloor. And I did try to scrape it out of the little bathroom area that we had and it took hours and hours of hand-scraping. And I probably did some damage to the subfloor in doing it.

    TOM: Well, the subfloor is not a finished floor, right? It’s a 1974 house. It’s probably plywood. Is that correct?

    SARAH: Yes, it’s plywood.

    TOM: So, can you pull up the carpet part itself with – obviously, leaving the glue behind? But will the carpet part peel off?

    SARAH: If I pull up the carpet part itself, what gets left behind is this black, spongy gunk that I can kind of scrape off. And then the bottom part of the black is glued onto the floor.

    TOM: What I want you to do is to pull the carpet up and then I want you to put a new piece of subfloor down on top of that using ¼-inch luan plywood. It’s very inexpensive and it’s the easiest way to get back to a surface that you can work with.

    I would not try to remove the glue from the subfloor. It’s just not worth it; it’s a rather impossible job. So, I would just opt for a smooth surface by adding another layer of subfloor on top of that. And then whatever you want to put on top of that, you can, whether it’s more carpet or whether it’s laminate or tile or whatever.

    But just pull up the carpet so – because you don’t want to sandwich carpet in between this. Pull the carpet up, then you’ll just be sandwiching the old glue and that’ll be fine, OK?

    SARAH: OK. Fantastic.

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

    LESLIE: Mike in Pennsylvania is dealing with some stains on the roof. Tell us what’s going on there.

    MIKE: Yeah, I have – on the kind of the northern parts of the roof on my house, myself and – as well as my neighbors have these black streaks. And it seems to be a part of the roof that doesn’t get a lot of sun. And my question was – you know, I guess, first of all, what is it? And then, secondly, is there a way that I can clean that myself, as a homeowner, or do I have to hire somebody to do some – clean that type of streak off?

    TOM: Well, generally, those streaks are made up of algae or moss. And they happen more frequently on the north side of the roof because it’s a cooler side of the roof and there’s more shade there. And a product that you could use to address that is called Wet & Forget. It’s a concentrate and you mix it up, you spray it on the roof. And then slowly but surely, it kills the algae, it kills the moss, it kills any mold that’s there and cleans the roof. And so, within a very short period of time, you’ll find that the roof looks bright and shiny again.

    MIKE: Oh, OK. Does that product come in an applicator where you can hook it up to a hose or you actually do have to get up on the roof?

    TOM: Don’t believe it does. I think you have to mix it up and put it in a pump sprayer.

    MIKE: OK.

    TOM: And so you may have to get up there and just spray it down and let it sit. Follow the instructions. Their website is WetAndForget.com.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it is a product that once you get it on the surface, over time it continues to work, so it’s not something that you’re going to have to reapply very often. So it is worth it if you can get up there to carefully spray it.

    MIKE: Oh, OK. Would that also – I have the same problem with the siding on the northern part of my house; it gets a lot of that.

    TOM: Yep. Absolutely. You could use it for siding, for sidewalks and for roofs. And the nice thing about Wet & Forget is it doesn’t damage your landscaping.

    MIKE: Oh, OK, OK. Great, great. OK. Well, I greatly appreciate the advice. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Good luck with that project. 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.

    We are a few days away from Halloween, so let’s help you get your money pit in tip-top shape to avoid those ghosts and goblins and maybe give you some ideas on how to clean up the messes they might make, as well. Give us a call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, we’ve got tips on how to find those sneaky drafts that drive up heating costs.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Diamond Crystal Salt. The benefits are bigger than you expected. After all, you’re worth your salt. Diamond Crystal Salt. A brilliant choice since 1886.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by the new Chamberlain MyQ Garage. When you forget, it alerts your smartphone so you can close your garage door from anywhere, on most garage-door openers. Coming soon. For more information, go to Chamberlain.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now with your home improvement question. We want to help solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    And one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Flexio Paint Sprayer from Wagner. It’s worth 149 bucks. It’s the first paint sprayer that works both inside and outside. Learn more at WagnerSprayTech.com and give us a call right now for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Nancy in Pennsylvania is on the line with a question about asbestos. How can we help you today?

    NANCY: I live in a home that was built in the mid-1950s. And on the ceiling, there are 1×1 square ceiling tiles. And I would like to take those off and just have a smooth ceiling put up. But I see on all these home improvement shows where they get into pulling things out of older houses and some of the things have asbestos in them. And I’m wondering how you tell that.

    TOM: Asbestos can’t be visually identified; it has to be tested. And what you could potentially do is take a sample of one of those ceiling tiles and send it to an asbestos testing lab and have it identified.

    NANCY: How do you find an asbestos testing lab?

    LESLIE: You can buy kits at any sort of major home center. I know Home Depot carries one. I think that one of the main brands that you can find in stores is PRO-LAB. And then you send a piece of whatever you’re concerned about to this company and they run a test and get it back to you with whatever their findings are.

    Now, the issue with asbestos is that it’s so lightweight that if it becomes particulate, if it breaks up and gets into the air, I mean it takes almost a full day for it ever to reach to the ground. So that’s why there is such a concern when there is asbestos present. But most likely, your ceiling tiles are hopefully fine.

    TOM: Yeah, they’re probably just a fiber tile, which we saw millions of these used in the 50s. But if you’re concerned, that would be the way to do it: to send a sample to an asbestos-testing lab. You can use one that’s available in retail or if you just Google “asbestos testing lab,” you’ll find these all over the country. Find a good one, slip a piece in a plastic bag, send it off and they’ll read it for you.

    NANCY: OK, great. I didn’t know they existed.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Chuck in Delaware on the line whose kids dropped something in the bathtub, which caused a huge crack and now a leak. What is going on?

    CHUCK: They dropped a shave-cream can into the bottom of the tub. It put a semicircle crack in it. And I’m wondering if there’s anything that I can use to stop this from – when they step on it, it leaks.

    TOM: Yeah. Look, you can repair it. It’s not going to be pretty but you can repair it. And you said it’s a fiberglass tub?

    CHUCK: Yes.

    TOM: So, you could pick up a fiberglass repair kit. They’re available from a number of manufacturers. Two that you would know would be Bondo, which makes a lot of fiberglass products. They’re big in industry, they’re big in auto body. And them, of course, there’s Elmer’s. They have a tub-and-shower repair kit, as well. But I would probably get the Bondo kit and you could put a fiberglass patch on there.

    But the color on it is – it’s always going to show; you’re going to see it. But you can repair it structurally so it won’t leak, because they need to be able to step on it without it bending and cracking. And if you repair it with Bondo, you’re going to basically apply the resin, you’re going to press fiberglass into it and then apply additional resin to make it strong.

    CHUCK: Alright. Well, I appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Well, it’s time now for our Insulating Tip, presented by Owens Corning, makers of EcoTouch Insulation.

    TOM: Well, you might not realize it but there are many ways your heated or even cool air in the summer, for that matter, can escape into an unconditioned space of your home, like your attic, for example. And one of those ways is through that attic-stair opening.

    Now, if you have an access to your living space, the gaps around it can be a source of air leakage. And the solution is to weatherstrip those gaps to significantly reduce the amount of air that’s leaking into your attic and also to insulate the area above the staircase. And in fact, Owens Corning has an attic-stairway insulator designed to do just that.

    LESLIE: Now, another place that can affect your home’s energy efficiency is the garage door. You can actually insulate your garage door itself by cutting panels of insulation to fit inside the panels of the door. Not only is this going to insulate the garage and help keep your home warmer, it’ll actually keep the garage much warmer. So if you use it as a work or hobby space, that’s really, really helpful and much more comfortable for you.

    And if your hobby is something that might be keeping the neighbors up at night, the insulation is going to help muffle that sound, as well.

    TOM: It’s a good, neighborly thing to do.

    This Insulation Tip is brought to you by Owens Corning, makers of EcoTouch Insulation. EcoTouch is easy to cut and install and it’s got less dust than traditional insulation. Learn more about that and the projects we just talked about at HomeDepot.OwensCorning.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Antoinette in Ohio on the line looking to put a bathroom in the basement. How can we help you with that project?

    ANTOINETTE: Is there possible – a shower? I think it – when you were on earlier – that you don’t have to go through the – if it’s in the basement, you don’t have to go through the cement to put a flow of the water that comes out of the shower to the drain?

    TOM: So, Antoinette, am I hearing that you’d like to add a shower to your basement?


    TOM: And you’d like to do that without the use of a jackhammer, correct?


    TOM: OK. So, you can do that. There is a way to add a shower and have that shower drain to a reservoir, which then pumps the water up high enough to drop it into your regular drain-waste vent line that takes all of the waste out of the house.

    ANTOINETTE: Oh, that way – because I’ve got drains down in the basement, see. And that’s where – my washer goes to that drain. That’s why I wanted a shower, so that when the water – the dirty water – comes through the shower part, that it’ll go right into the same drain.

    TOM: And where is that draining eventually?

    ANTOINETTE: Well, it goes through – well, just where all the water of the – your bathtub and your kitchen water, they all go the same place.

    TOM: If the drain is low enough where you can do that with a basement shower, then that’s how you would do it.

    ANTOINETTE: Yeah. But do they have bases on the shower – you know, your base of your shower that has it that you can do that?

    TOM: You build up the shower so it’s not flush on the floor of the basement. It would be on – stepped-up a few inches to a foot or so, so you could get the plumbing in there. And then you would make sure that you drain that, if possible, to a lower point where the house drain can pick it up. But if not possible, you drop in what’s called a “lift pump.” The lift pump lifts the water up and then drops it into the main drain line for the house and carries it out and away.

    ANTOINETTE: OK. Well, that’s a good idea. OK. Thank you for the information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    LESLIE: Next up, our caller has a great name. We’ve got Leslie on the line who’s got a question about cutting down a door.

    Welcome, Leslie.

    CALLER LESLIE: We have one door that I need to cut down. Goes into the basement.

    TOM: OK.

    CALLER LESLIE: It’s also a six-panel, solid-core oak door.

    TOM: Right.

    CALLER LESLIE: When we went to cut it off, there seems to be staples or some kind of small metal pieces inside the – there’s about 8 inches that go across the bottom. We were cutting that off or a portion of it ­- 6 inches of it. And it’s totally ruined a saw blade.

    TOM: Right.

    CALLER LESLIE: Do you have any suggestions as how to cut off a solid-core door?

    TOM: Yeah, having the staples inside of that is not unusual. Depends on how – they might have been used in the manufacturing process. I’ll be willing to bet that you used a non-carbide saw blade, because had you used a carbide saw blade, it would have probably cut through the metal and all.

    CALLER LESLIE: OK. So just use a carbide.

    TOM: Use a carbide blade and safety glasses and not a great carbide blade because it will ruin the blade. But generally, it’ll cut right through something like that.

    CALLER LESLIE: Alright. Thank you so much for your help.

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

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

    TERRY: Well, when you are putting pipe in, let’s say underground, and supply line/water pipe and you come across a barrier or something you had that you have to go over or go under, can you – and this is a question I had when I went to the store – was can you heat the pipe and bend it? That still work? I wasn’t sure.

    TOM: Well, depends on the type of plastic pipe you’re using. Most water-supply pipes are flexible ABS plastic pipes today and they can bend quite a bit.

    If you’re talking about a PVC pipe where it’s flexible but very stiff, then you can easily break it. You can bend that and I’ll give you a trick of the trade to do it and that is – and you don’t want to do a lot of this. But what you can do is you can fill the pipe with sand. And fill the pipe with sand first and then you can heat it. And you can use a heat tape to kind of get it warm and gently bend it.

    TERRY: Yeah.

    TOM: And the reason you’re putting – you’re filling the pipe with sand is because when you bend the pipe, it’s going to tend to collapse on itself. But if you put sand in it, it won’t be able to collapse on itself and it tends to hold the pipe open as you bend that angle that you need. So there’s a little trick of the trade for that.

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

    LESLIE: Up next, when Hurricane Sandy hit a year ago – I cannot even believe it’s been a year already – one Jersey Shore homeowner almost threw in the towel. When we come back, we’re going to find out what happened, when our exclusive, behind-the-scene coverage of This Old House: Jersey Shore Rebuilds continues, presented by Red Devil.

    TOM: And Red Devil’s ColorCure Sealant goes on pink and dries white and can be used indoors and out. Great for windows, doors and trim. For special offers and the latest in Red Devil’s innovative products, visit SaveOnRedDevil.com.

    We’ll be back with more, after this.

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

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Owens Corning and The Home Depot. Insulate right, from the start, for a lifetime of comfort and savings. What’s your insulation project? Learn more. Visit HomeDepot.OwensCorning.com today.

    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.

    Well, when Hurricane Sandy made the Jersey Shore its direct target, the damage was devastating. Now, almost a year later, This Old House is documenting the renovation of three homes in three Jersey Shore towns.

    TOM: The Money Pit has been given exclusive, behind-the-scene access to bring you the stories of these renovations and the victims behind them, presented by Red Devil. In this week’s episode, This Old House watches as a crane lifts a new modular house into place for one homeowner who just couldn’t save what Sandy left behind.

    LESLIE: You can watch both This Old House: Jersey Shore Rebuilds and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station. Ask This Old House is brought to you by Angie’s List. Angie’s List, reviews you can trust.

    Here’s our report.

    TOM: Before Superstorm Sandy struck the New Jersey coast on October 29, 2012, most Jersey Shore residents associated the name Sandy as the title of Bruce Springsteen’s iconic classic, set in Asbury Park, New Jersey. But the storm by the same name, that roared up the coast that day, will forever displace the haunting strains of that Springsteen melody in the memories of the millions whose lives were turned upside down forever.

    But just like the theme of so many Springsteen ballads, redemption is what residents are focused on right now. Today is one of those days and one that Rita Gurry has been waiting for for almost an entire year. As the cameras from This Old House captured the moment, a crane lifted Rita’s house into place, high above the ground and high on pilings that will render it much safer and sounder than her original home, which was torn apart by the storm surge that Sandy brought here to Manasquan, New Jersey.

    When Rita first saw the devastation just a few days after the storm, she was crushed and knew immediately there was no way of rebuilding her home: one, in fact, she had just renovated and finished paying off the mortgage on weeks earlier.

    The process that brought her to tearing it down and starting over was a long and painful one. But for Rita, redemption is finally within sight and the wait was all well worth it.

    RITA: The house came in in two pieces and they’re finishing it upstairs. Like they’re just scurrying around like little mice and in a matter of hours, my house has come together and I’ve gotten my life back. And I feel so alive again; I feel so animated. I feel like – I feel that this is the old me. I’m back in Manasquan and it was worth the seven months and it was worth waiting and it was worth going back into debt again. It’s just absolutely awesome. And I can’t wait until they’re finished. This is just the beginning.

    TOM: Directing the cranes and crews assembling Rita’s house is builder Anthony Zarrilli, who explains why this home, built a full 2 feet above the federal requirements for Rita’s flood zone, will be safe and secure, even if a superstorm like Sandy were to ever strike again.

    ANTHONY: The base flood elevation is determined by FEMA. If we go a minimum of 2 feet above the flood, all of your mechanicals and all of your home’s structure is above that flood which, from a construction standpoint, is stronger, safer and from an insurance standpoint, will get you the best rate. If this home was here, as we’re building it today, you’re looking at a few thousand dollars’ worth of repairs, as opposed to building a whole new structure.

    TOM: Raising a house well above flood levels is part of what makes it able to withstand future storms with little damage. Making sure it stays there is the job of the foundation. And Zarrilli says there are a number of options to consider and explains why, for many homes, wood pilings were the best way to go.

    ANTHONY: We used the piling foundation system here. We had a couple choices. We could have went with a block-wall foundation or we could have went with wood pilings or helical pilings, which are metal pilings. The helical pilings are typically used to retrofit an existing house and are much more expensive. The block-wall foundation – being that we were in a flood-related area, the block-wall foundations aren’t as strong and don’t hold up as well as the wood pilings.

    The wood pilings are much less expensive than the helicals and are easier to install when there’s nothing in the way. We put them at an elevation more than 2 feet above the new base flood elevations that were just given out by FEMA, so we are far exceeding the requirements of the state.

    TOM: With so many homes destroyed by Sandy’s path, one of the most efficient ways for many to rebuild was by going with factory-built modular homes. But these are not the flimsy prefabs of years ago. Today, factory-built modular homes are not only quick to assemble but Zarrilli explains they’re much stronger and more energy-efficient once complete.

    ANTHONY: Purely from a time standpoint, the house will be ready to move in much quicker. From the day, today, of setting the home, she will be in her house in less than three months. From a construction standpoint and actually, how it’s built, it’s 2-by walls construction. They build the modulars from the inside out, which you can never do in the field.

    And what I mean by that is we build the exterior walls, we put the sheetrock on first, we insulate behind the sheetrock and then we put the plywood on and siding. Obviously, you could never do that in the field because of weather conditions. And this makes for a much stronger built and much more efficiently built home.

    The homeowner will notice this with their heating and cooling bills, will notice it from a noise standpoint. Being on the road she’s on, with the insulation in the walls, it – she will be able to see the benefits of going with the modular construction.

    TOM: This Old House plumbing-and-heating expert Richard Trethewey was on hand for this renovation, every step of the way. And he’s a big fan of modular, prefabricated homes and that says a lot coming from a guy who’s an expert in old houses.

    Richard says, “When you take into consideration that this is probably not the last severe storm the Jersey Shore will see, the old adage that they don’t build them like they used to is probably a good thing.”

    RICHARD: Well, I’ll tell you, in building near the shoreline, you’ve got to think about the next storm that might come. And so when I look back at this building, driving the pilings, I think they’ve proven that the pilings turn out to be as good a foundation as you can get because the pilings will let the water run by. A lot of times, concrete block will resist too much, even though you have the breakaway panels.

    On top of it is this box – this series of boxes – that have been built in a factory. Everything has been glued, everything has been screwed together. All the boxes are lagged together so that it’s as tight as you can ever get. It’s 2×6 construction. If I’m taking a storm, I’m feeling really good about a modular house.

    TOM: Aside from the construction that surrounds the Jersey Shore, a big part of the economic recovery of this area depends on the shoreline itself. But when Sandy struck, the combination of both high tide and a full moon delivered a storm surge that not only washed homes away, the beach itself was carried from the Atlantic Ocean, across the barrier island and right into the Barnegat Bay. And getting that bay back to pre-Sandy levels has been a major effort.

    RICHARD: Well, you’ve got to remember, when that Hurricane Sandy – or Superstorm Sandy – came, all the debris from all those houses washed into the bay and it was really a big story. And so, over the last seven or eight months, they’ve gotten all the debris out. But what’s left is the entire beach that used to be on the ocean side is now in the bay, so the level is much higher. So now the challenge is to get in there and dredge and bring that back to the same depth that it was so it can be used for navigation. A lot of the people have marinas that they can’t even put boats at anymore because the sand is so high. So it’s a big, digging story, as they say.

    TOM: So, as we begin to see the progress, it’s nice to know that this story does have a happy ending for at least some of the folks who live and work here. And while there are still, very likely, years of work ahead, every step ahead brings a very welcome sight.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Lutron’s new Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch. Never ask “Who left the lights on?” again. Starting at around $20, this motion-sensing light switch turns the lights on automatically when you walk into a room and off when you leave and works with all types of light bulbs. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller who gets on the air with us this hour is going to win Wagner’s Flexio Paint Sprayer.

    Now, it’s three times more powerful than traditional low-pressure sprayers, so you can really spray any coating, including unthinned paints. You’re going to get excellent coverage.

    TOM: And you can check it out at WagnerSprayTech.com. And be sure to give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    Well, it’s time now for today’s Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron, makers of the Maestro Occupancy-Sensing Switch.

    LESLIE: So, if you’ve ever thought that you can just simply skip winterizing your house or apartment because you rent it, think again. Your rentals can have just as many leaks as a home that somebody owns. And sealing up those leaks, I mean it really just makes sense, especially if you’re footing the bill.

    TOM: Absolutely. But like any other home, windows usually need the most attention.

    Now, every window frame should be checked for leaks. And caulking, of course, is your first line of defense. If you’re not able to caulk on the outside, you can use painter’s caulk along the inside trim and frame, very often an area that spews leaks all the time.

    Also, for super-drafty windows, consider the temporary caulk or peelable caulk. It’s sort of like liquid weatherstripping in a caulk tube. You caulk these windows shut, so to speak, and then in the spring you can peel it off. It comes off kind of like that glue that you stick – that you see that manufacturers stick credit cards to when they come in the mail? Kind of like that white – that clear, sort of gummy stuff. It peels right off in one piece and doesn’t damage the window underneath.

    Now, there’s only one scenario when you can’t use that and that is when the window has to be accessible: for example, a bedroom window that you might have to open in the event of a fire. But for all other uses, it’s absolutely terrific. Temporary caulk.

    LESLIE: Alright. You can also use heavy drapes, which can block the sun in the summer and then help you provide an insulating effect in the winter months. Now, you can also close vents in rooms that you don’t use very often. And for every degree that you lower your thermostat, the rule of thumb is that you’re going to save about three percent off of your heating bill.

    TOM: And that’s today’s Fall Energy-Saving Tip, presented by Lutron. Learn more at LutronSensors.com.

    LESLIE: Jim in Missouri is working on a concrete project. How can we help you with that?

    JIM: Well, I went through restoring this old, 1842 building here in Greenville.

    TOM: Nice.

    JIM: It’s a lot more work than what I had initially thought. But anyway …

    TOM: Always is.

    JIM: Yeah. That portion of it we’re turning into a flat, at the newer part they added on that has concrete floor. We’re turning that into a flat for my daughter and I polished or stained and sealed and did all that with the floor. And it looked beautiful but it still doesn’t have that really deep, beautiful shine and the sheen that I’ve seen in retail stores and stuff. I wondered – somebody suggested put polyurethane over it or – I’m just not sure what to do to get that look.

    LESLIE: Well, it’s not necessarily a polyurethane but there are a lot of manufacturers out there that do make a super-high-gloss sealer for concrete surfaces. You know, it really depends on which brand you feel comfortable working with. QUIKRETE has one. Theirs is called Concrete & Masonry High-Gloss Sealer. BEHR makes one, Sherwin-Williams makes one. I think BEHR’s is called the Wet-Look Sealer.

    JIM: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: Sherwin-Williams is a high-gloss concrete sealer.

    JIM: So just another – a sealer over what I’ve already done. It’s already – is all I need then.

    LESLIE: Exactly. And that’ll give you that sort of metropolitan, retail, glossy, industrial look.

    JIM: Right. OK. Great. Well, that’s exactly what I’m looking for. I just had done some searching and I knew I had already sealed it, so I thought maybe I had to do something else.

    TOM: That should do it, Jim.

    JIM: Great. Thanks so much for help. I love the show.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Up next, horns, whistles and rattling. Does that sound like your plumbing system? Find out why, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, celebrating their 170-year anniversary. At Stanley, making history is our future. To learn more, visit StanleyTools.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And we’d love for you to check out the new Money Pit website. It’s always evolving and chock full of awesome home improvement information. And while you’re there, you can head on over to the Community section and post a question there, just like Angela in California did who writes: “We’re experiencing an extremely loud noise, almost like a ship’s horn, when we turn on the hot-water faucet in our kitchen. It happens when the faucet handle reaches a certain point in its rotation and stops if you turn the handle beyond that point. How can we fix this?”

    TOM: Get a new valve. Get a new faucet. I mean what’s happening here is there’s some defect in the valve. It’s probably – it could be something as simple as a washer but the problem is that repairing faucets is generally not worth it. Obviously, if you have to call a plumber, it’s not worth it because faucets are so cheap. But even if you get the parts yourself, I have found that unless you go right to the manufacturer and get the very part that was designed to work with that faucet, it usually doesn’t fit well. It looks perfect but there’s some minor difference between the two and it doesn’t work.

    So, you’re talking about a faucet that’s kind of breaking down. And the reason that it happens only in certain points in the rotation or when the water temperature gets to a certain point has to do with expansion and contraction. So, I would replace the faucet and I would look for one that has ceramic-disc valves. That’s the best technology because they literally don’t wear out. In fact, the longer you use a faucet that’s got ceramic-disc valves, the tighter it gets. So, keep that in mind and change the faucet out with one that has those ceramic-disc valves.

    LESLIE: And it’s amazing how just making that simple change does do this fix. Because we had this at my mom’s house and it was just loud and unsettling. It was great to have it gone.

    Alright. John in New York writes: “I want to change the doors in my home. Where can I find a jig for copying, transferring and routing the old hinge locations from an old door to the new?”

    TOM: That’s the hard way. You really don’t want to do that, John. What we would recommend you do is to replace it with another prehung door. Now, of course, you could go door to door or you could use the old door as a template to mark the new door.

    In terms of jigs, the only jigs that I’m really aware of would be ones for routing out the area where the hinge goes. But frankly, it’s not really worth it for three hinges. You know, if you were doing this all day long, then you would have the proper template for it.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But if he’s doing every door in the house …

    TOM: Maybe. Maybe. It’s something you can get pretty quick at. I would just use square butt hinges, not the rounded ones. They’re really easy to mortise out and you’d be done.

    But again, I think the easiest thing to do, since we’re talking about one door here, is just to replace the door with a prehung door. It’s just as easy to get the door and the jamb out as it is to just get the door by itself. Just take the whole unit out, pop a new one in and call it a day. Trust me, it’ll be a lot easier than trying to fit in a new door in an old frame. It will never be as square as the door. You will be doing an endless number of adjustments and it’s just a whole lot faster to replace it with a prehung door.

    LESLIE: Alright. Bill in Maine writes: “I’m replacing my old boiler and cast-iron steam radiators with a radiant-floor system. I’ll be mounting the PEX to the basement subfloor. I’m confused with what is best heat source for such a good system. I’ve been told tankless hot-water heater is good, new boiler – new, high-efficient boiler/water heater. What should I do that would be cost-efficient for an 1,100-square-foot house?”

    TOM: Well, you certainly wouldn’t use a tankless water heater to provide heat for the floor. They’re not big enough. I would recommend a new, high-efficiency boiler, properly sized for that house, which could also supply the hot water if it’s set up for that or a brand-new, high-efficiency boiler and a brand-new, high-efficiency tankless water heater.

    Since you’re going to go all the way now by switching out from the old system and getting rid of those beautiful, sturdy, cast-iron radiators, which I don’t advocate – but since you’ve already done it, I would complete the project and get a very high-efficiency boiler to help provide that heat and to save some money in the process.

    LESLIE: Alright. Good advice, Tom.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you for spending this beautiful fall day with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips and ideas on projects that you can do to help improve your money pit.

    Remember, we are online 24-7 at MoneyPit.com and you can always reach us at 888-MONEY-PIT. If we’re not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are because we’re sort of a full-service operation.

    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 2013 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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