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How to Select the Right Electric Generator, How to Inspect the Health of Your Roof, Learn About Faucets That Can Save Money and Water, 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: Standing by to tackle your home improvement projects. Well, we’re not going to tackle them; you’re going to tackle them. We’re going to help you tackle them if you pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you this hour. First up, if you’ve got a DIY home repair project lined up and ready to go, you are not alone. A new study says that about one-third of homeowners are going to tackle a project in the next few months.

    LESLIE: And that’s why we are doing a special broadcast today called Spring Into Home Improvement. We are telling you about some of the coolest products on the market that can make your do-it-yourself projects easier and get this, save you money.

    TOM: For example, one drawback of spring and summer is the damage the bright sun can do. We’re going to tell you, though, about a product that can protect your home using a new type of window screen.

    LESLIE: And also, you know what a struggle it is to keep your lawn green all summer. We’re going to tell you about a product to make summer lawn care much easier.

    TOM: But let’s kick things off now with a fact of nature: it wouldn’t be spring without a few of those knock-down, drag-out storms. And with those storms, you often get power outages and they’re not just inconvenient. They can be costly and they could even be dangerous.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. But did you know that you can avoid the losses with the right generator? Jon Hoch is the founder of PowerEquipmentDirect.com and he’s joining us with the tips on how to do just that.

    Now, Jon, you say we should buy right now. Why is that?

    JON: Great question. The reason why now is a great time to buy a generator is because we’re between storms. If you look at last year, for example, Hurricane Irene went up the East Coast and knocked out power to millions of people. And then after that, we had a freak Halloween blizzard that knocked out power beyond that.

    LESLIE: Snowstorm.

    TOM: Yeah, it was bad.

    JON: And the generator market is actually – they’ve been on backorder for about six months now, trying to get caught up from all those storms and all those events that have happened. And they’re finally back in stock now and it’s the best time – if you try to buy a generator in the middle of a blackout, good luck. It’s really hard to come by these products. But now is a great time because not only are they in stock but they’re usually at pretty good prices at this time of the year.

    TOM: So it’s not only the lull between storms, it’s the lull in terms of supply and demand of these generators.

    JON: Exactly, exactly.

    TOM: So, you, at Power Equipment Direct, have a lot of different brands. And I have to disclose that I actually purchased my standby generator from you many, many years ago. So you’ve been around a long time, you’ve seen a lot of the different products come and go. So why don’t you give us some tips on maybe one new product from some of the major brands?

    For example, let’s start with Generac. What’s new from them?

    JON: Yeah, Generac is actually one of the biggest suppliers of home standby generators. They recently got into portable generators, as well. And the unique thing about Generac is that they are the market-share leader in that category and they do a fantastic job of mass-producing these products to make them affordable.

    The interesting thing is that they’ve come out recently with a new product called a Nexus Transfer Switch.

    TOM: OK.

    JON: So, in the old days, the way you’re sizing a generator is you match it to the number of circuits you want to power. So, if you want to power 8 circuits in your electrical panel, you buy an 8-kilowatt generator and it’ll do it. The more – the bigger the generator, the more circuits that you can power.

    The big change in the generator marketplace is that instead of powering individual circuits, why not power the entire electrical panel? So, a lot of the new manufacturers – I know Briggs & Stratton have something similar to this; Generac has one.

    So you can power the entire panel but here’s the problem is most standby generators don’t have enough juice to be able to power everything in your house. So high-demand appliances, such as like an air conditioner, they may not be able to have enough power generated by the generator to be able to get that thing going. So what they do is – these new transfer switches will lock out some of these high-voltage appliances, so it’ll power the entire panel minus those, yes.

    TOM: Oh, it’s sort of intelligent. Oh, that’s very cool. So it does all the thinking for you; you don’t have to actually select your circuit.

    LESLIE: Which I think is the hard part for a homeowner.

    JON: Yes. I mean we call these smart-circuit generators, so they’re able to actually think about what to power and be able to pick and choose the different appliances. The other ones, the more basic types, are called the essential-circuit ones. And those are the ones that have been around for decades now.

    Both of them are still available. Typically, you’ll see that the essential-circuit stuff will be less expensive. It will require a little bit more work, because you’re wiring every single panel or every single circuit. But either way, they’ll be able to energize the essential, critical appliances in your house during a power outage.

    TOM: Makes sense.

    LESLIE: What about KOHLER? I understand they have a pretty good spot in this marketplace, which I think is unusual because I always think about them as bathroom products.

    JON: Exactly. KOHLER, actually, is more of a premium brand, so they’re a little bit more expensive but they also come with their own engines. KOHLER also – if you look at some riding product, you’ll see that they have some really high-end engines. Now, the engines that are in a home standby generator are going to be different than a lawn mower, because they’re going to be running off of natural gas or propane. But they’re making very good engines to go along with them.

    In addition to that, one of the unique things about the KOHLER products is they have a composite enclosure. So instead of steel or aluminum, which some of the other brands have, they’ll have it completely made out of composites. Therefore, there’s no rusting at all; it’s never going to rust.

    TOM: Terrific. Jon Hoch from PowerEquipmentDirect.com, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    JON: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

    TOM: And if you’re in the market for a generator, check out PowerEquipmentDirect.com. I bought my generator there and it’s a terrific site and they’ve got all of the brands.

    And best of all, they’ll ship them right to your door, right, Jon?

    JON: That’s right. That’s right.

    TOM: Alright. You’ve got it.

    LESLIE: Well, alright. You can learn all about the products we’ve been talking about on today’s show and more in our online spring product guide at MoneyPit.com.

    For example, what says “spring” better than a good cleaning? Now you can get that fresh, clean feel to your home in a way that keeps your trash can a little lighter.

    TOM: That’s right. You know, there’s a product out there called JAWS. It’s the new JAWS home cleaners and they come with a small refill cartridge. And this is cool because when the bottle gets empty, all you do is add tap water and you drop in this refill cartridge, you screw on the top, you shake it and you’re good to go. So, that’s going to be a lot more environmentally friendly than having to buy all those gallons and gallons of cleaners at the store. All you need is the concentrate in the bottle and you’re all done.

    So if you want to check it out, you can go to JAWSCleans.com. That’s JAWSCleans.com. You can also see it in our spring product gallery.

    LESLIE: Alright. But right now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question right now or 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, you may have waited all winter for the sun but now, perhaps you have a new problem: how to keep those burning rays out of your home. We’ll tell you about a neat solution, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we’re giving you lots of information this hour to absorb. To keep all the products straight, go to our website at MoneyPit.com. We’ve got a list of all the products we’ve been talking about, plus even more great ideas that we found in our search for the best home improvement products in the DIY category.

    For example, the new Gorilla Glue. They’ve got a glue now, Leslie, with an anti-clog cap. What took them so long, huh?

    LESLIE: That’s right. You probably don’t use glue on a daily basis but when you do go reaching for it, you want it to be ready to use.

    Now, Gorilla Glue’s improved cap has a pin inserted in the tip. I mean come on, you all know you’ve used a safety pin to unclog that glue tip in the past. Now it’s already there, it’s already built in and it’s going to be unclogged for you. It’s awesome. Learn more about it at MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: Well, what we love to do here is to save you money and energy, too. And our next product is designed to do just that. They are retractable screens that help keep the sun’s harsh glare from your home.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Jeret Unger is here from Phantom Screens to tell us more.

    Jeret, can you first explain what exactly retractable screens are?

    JERET: Absolutely. Basically, a retractable screen is going to provide you the same kind of inside protection that a fixed – traditional fixed screen would and also provide you with solar shading that a permanent structure would, such as an overhang. But the big difference is that retractable screens retract out of sight when you don’t need them. So, all of the components remain out of the way, out of sight. So you’ve got a complete, open view to the outdoors when you don’t need to have that inside protection or that solar shading.

    TOM: When you say “solar shading,” is there a reflective quality to the screens, as well?

    JERET: There can be a reflective quality or the screens can also absorb the solar heat. The advantage, I guess, of having a retractable screen is that it can be mounted on the exterior side of your home. So it’s mounted on the outside of the home, as opposed to the inside. So we’re actually blocking that solar heat gain before it even enters the home.

    And what that allows us to do is we can actually use a darker mesh type, instead of a light mesh type, which actually absorbs the solar heat as opposed to reflecting it. And the benefit there, of course, is that you’ve got much better visibility when you’re looking through that particular mesh product when it’s darker; it absorbs the glare, as well as the heat. Whereas with a lighter mesh type, you’re going to have more glare; it’ll be more difficult to see your view outside. So that’s sort of one – the big advantage, I guess, of retractable screens over interior, mounted, solar-shade options.

    LESLIE: That’s so interesting that it’s the glare that interferes with your view. I would have never put that together on a screen, because you feel like there’s so much open space on a screen.

    JERET: That’s right, yeah. And it’s amazing: you can even have up to 80- or 90-percent blockage of the solar heat and still be able to see through that screen. So you still have a good portion of your view to look out upon.

    TOM: Well, let’s talk about other ways to save money and specifically, adding value to your house. It seems that if we can take advantage of our outdoor living space, that really is very usable space. That’s got to add value to your home, as well. And having patios that can be completely shaded and completely screened can make that a reality, no matter where you live.

    JERET: Yeah, we’re seeing that a lot. I mean of course, curb appeal is always the number-one attraction to a home. And the whole idea of a retractable-screen system is to integrate with the actual design of your home. It blends in seamlessly so that you don’t see the retractable screen when you don’t need to have it. So that, of course, is a big value feature when it comes to if you want to sell your home at one particular point.

    But as you mentioned, too, those outdoor living spaces are a huge hit nowadays. A lot of residential space or home space has been reduced. And being able to enclose an outdoor covered area at the touch of a button, particularly with a motorized screen, can expand that living space without you having to spend a lot of money on structural changes to your home.

    So if you imagine, for example, a living room that opens up onto a covered patio, you can, in essence, double the size of your living room by pressing a button and having your patio enclosed with a motorized screen system.

    TOM: And keep the mosquitoes out, to boot.

    JERET: Well, that’s the most important part.

    TOM: Now, how about natural daylight? Is there a difference in the quality of screen, in terms of how much light gets through screens? Because sometimes when you see a screen from the outside, they look almost opaque and other times, they look very, very clear. What makes the difference between a screen that really is more transparent than blocks out the look of the room and behind it?

    JERET: The biggest, I guess, measure that you want to look at, when you’re looking at the various mesh types – and we probably offer about, oh, I’d say over 30 mesh types at this particular point in time. It’s something called the “openness factor.”

    TOM: But did you say 30 mesh types?

    JERET: That’s right, yeah.

    TOM: I had no idea.

    LESLIE: That’s a ton.

    JERET: Various colors and various mesh densities.

    TOM: Wow.

    JERET: And how we show that, basically, is with a percentage. So we may say “20-percent openness factor,” which means that you’ve probably got a pretty dense mesh, all the way up to more of a 60-percent openness factor, which would be more of your standard insect screen. So, the greater the openness factor, the better your visibility and also the greater the amount of fresh, outside air can enter into a living space. So it really comes down to that: how dense your mesh is is going to determine your visibility and how much air can enter or exit that particular living space.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And then, of course, given the fact that you can retract it when you just want truly all of the natural elements to show.

    JERET: That’s right. Yeah, absolutely.

    TOM: Jeret Unger from Phantom Screens, great information. Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    If you’d like more information on Phantom Screens, you can visit them at PhantomScreens.com or pick up the phone and call them, toll free, at 1-888-PHANTOM and they will hook you up with an authorized Phantom Screens consultant.

    Thanks, Jeret.

    JERET: Thank you very much, Tom.

    TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. And we are focusing, this hour, on home improvement product innovations. We’re calling it our Spring Into Home Improvement Broadcast Special.

    Now, for some people, spring is a mixed blessing, right? You can’t wait to get out to your beautiful lawn but now you also have to maintain that lawn to keep it green.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, there’s actually a type of grass that can make your lawn care much easier. So we’ve got John Ridgway from Zoysia Farm here to explain.

    Welcome, John.

    JOHN: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Now, I’ve always heard about this zoysia grass and I actually think I have some. Is there any way to know, as a homeowner, if you’re looking at your lawn, if you’ve got zoysia grass?

    JOHN: Different varieties of grass are very difficult to tell the difference between. There are two basic types of grass: warm-season grasses and cool-season grasses.

    And if you think of deciduous trees – if I could take you over there for a second – warm-season grasses are like deciduous trees: they go dormant in the winter. And cool-season grasses are ones that like the winter and they stay a little bit greener through the fall and winter and into spring but have a tough time staying green in the summer. And they want to go dormant in the summer.

    So, there are those two basic varieties of grass: warm-season grass and cool-season grass. If you have a warm-season grass, it’ll go dormant in the winter. Cool-season grasses go – try and go dormant in the summer.

    TOM: Now, zoysia grass is a warm-season grass. And one of the features of zoysia grass is that it’s a very slow-growing grass so that you’re not going to be pulling out your lawn mower quite so often, correct?

    JOHN: That’s right. It thrives in the heat of summer, stays green all summer long. And because it has what you might call sort of a low metabolism, very slow growing, you’re not going to be pulling out your lawn mower as often. It’s more resistant to sort of drought conditions and all those sort of things that might cause impact on a normal lawn. Because zoysia is so slow and does everything slowly, it really can withstand a lot more than a normal type of grass.

    LESLIE: That’s interesting. Now, I think when it comes to lawn care, it’s really sort of this mysterious area in people’s yards. So, if you want to sort of boost up your lawn or start from scratch, really, what is the best way to start working on the area that will be your lawn?

    JOHN: Well, I think that the first thing to take into consideration is that you’re probably not going to have one grass that will do everything. You’re going to have shady spots in your lawn, you’re going to have very sunny spots in your lawn. You’re going to have areas that might be damper than other areas and you might have areas that are very dry on the top of a slope or something like that.

    So I think the first thing to sort of accept is that you’re probably going to need more than one type of grass to really have a perfect lawn throughout your property.

    TOM: That’s an interesting observation, because I don’t think that the average person thinks about having more than one type of grass. But you’re right: just like any plant, some work better in shade, some work better in sun.

    Now, where does zoysia fit into the mix? Is it – does it need a lot of sun or does it also work in shade?

    JOHN: It needs – it loves the sunlight. So it works very well in sun. It works alright in partial shade but if you’ve got full shade, it’s not going to grow. Zoysia is not going to be the answer for something like that.

    And a lot of plants have a lot of trouble in full shade, so – but you’d probably be – almost be better to turn that into a groundcover area and plant something that really accepts full shade. I think you have to sort of understand your property and really pick – just as you would the garden – pick plants that work well either in – as you said, Tom: shady areas and sunny areas or very moist areas or very dry areas.

    LESLIE: Is that just part of the equation, John? Should I know what type of soil I have and then add that to the mix?

    JOHN: Soil is also an important element. But it’s not so important from a zoysia point of view. Zoysia is really – can grow in any type of soil, from very sandy soil – is very popular near the ocean because it’s very salt-tolerant and salt breezes and salt air is a problem for a lot of grasses. But it also grows very well in very clay areas.

    TOM: It’s like the miracle grass, zoysia: you know, it really grows really well in a lot of places.

    JOHN: You know what? I really avoid that term. There’s no such thing as a miracle grass that’s going to grow everywhere. It just – it’s not possible. But it’s a – zoysia is highly suited to areas that are real problems for a lot of homeowners. Areas that get a lot of sun and want to dry out in the summertime, in the heat of summer, zoysia can really withstand that heat.

    TOM: John Ridgway from Zoysia Farms, great information about this incredible product, zoysia grass.

    If you’d like more information, you can visit ZoysiaFarms.com. That’s Z-o-y-s-i-aFarms.com.

    Thanks, John.

    JOHN: Thank you very much, Tom. Nice talking to you.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, choosing the right tools for your do-it-yourself project is critical. Keeping them all straight and charged can be a nightmare. We’re going to tell you about a line of tools that can turn that nightmare into a dream, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Quicken Loans. Call Quicken Loans today at 888-450-0024 or go to QuickenLoans.com to receive your free home-loan review. They’ll give you their best possible mortgage at their best possible rate, in the shortest amount of time. That number, again, is 888-450-0024. Equal housing lender. Licensed in all 50 states. NMLS Number 3030. Call today. 888-450-0024.

    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 spring is in the air. It’s time to get out and get going on all of those projects that you might have been putting off all winter long. And if that’s exactly what you’re doing, you are like millions of homeowners across the country who are deciding that this is the year, right now, that they’ve been putting off those projects and it’s just happened for too far, too long. It’s time to spring into home improvement.

    So that’s what we’re doing this hour. We’re taking the opportunity to tell you about some great innovations in the home improvement product industry that can help you get your projects done.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And every do-it-yourselfer knows how important tools are to the job. And many homeowners are turning to tool systems rather than an individual tool from different manufacturers.

    TOM: Now, Ryobi has an 18-volt tool system that I’ve been using for a number of years. Here to tell us about this is Jason Swanson. He’s the director of communications.

    So, Jason, let’s start by talking about the ONE+ System. What is it and how many tools are in the collection?

    JASON: Wow. What is it? It’s probably, simply, the largest tool selection out there of over 50 products now. Everything from drills, sanders, impact drivers, saws, inflators and shoot, even fans, as we now get into the warm spring and summer months.

    TOM: And of course, the key is what links them all together is they all work off the same 18-volt battery. So you have one battery system, one tool system; they work together. You don’t have to have different batteries for different products and you pretty much can just choose whatever tools you need to get the project done.

    JASON: Absolutely. Everything is compatible, again, all the way back to our 1997 18-volt drill. So if you still have that today, yeah, you can come back to the store and buy any battery you want.

    TOM: Wow. So 15 years, the same platform. It’s pretty impressive.

    So what’s the latest innovation in the ONE+ line?

    JASON: Well, I hate to say just one, because I think there’s about eight or nine, but one of the – one of my favorites is the – what I – what we call the JobPlus.

    TOM: OK.

    JASON: And that’s the pretty cool multi-tool. Everybody knows how explosive that market is right now and really, it’s the tool that kind of does everything.

    We’ve also got the impact driver; right-angle drill; reciprocating saw; impact wrench; a fan, like I was just mentioning; a dual-function inflator/deflator, which is one of my favorites. Because you know what? I’ve got a million sport balls and a ton of things I’ve got to blow up for my kids every single weekend.

    LESLIE: I know, right?

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely.

    JASON: And probably the best way to get into the system is a three-piece combo kit. There’s now one of those lithium ion-driven combo kits for less than 200 bucks, which is just amazing.

    LESLIE: And that’s great. There is so much talk about the lithium-ion technology. And I’m not sure that everybody really understands why it’s so significant.

    JASON: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Lithium ion is an extremely active chemistry and shoot, you get about twice as much run time and at about half the weight. So if you’re not used to holding something that’s 4 or 5 pounds, like in years past, now you can buy that same drill, which is going to weigh about half.

    TOM: We’re talking to Jason Swanson. He’s the director of communications for Ryobi. And specifically, we were getting filled in on the latest developments in the 18-volt system called the ONE+ System.

    So, Jason, when you were just talking about lithium ion, I think one of the frustrations of the old battery technology is the length of time it took to charge these batteries. What’s the difference between the NiCad and the lithium, in terms of how quickly they recharge?

    JASON: Yeah. NiCads will take anywhere between 3 to 16 hours, depending on what kind of charger you had. And lithium ion literally takes you about 50 minutes or less to get a full charge. So you know what that means: you’re back to work a lot sooner and if you forgot to charge your batteries on that Friday night, you can quickly get up Saturday morning and do it.

    TOM: And you guys even have a new charging platform now. I think you showed it to me in the last tool expo that I attended with other home improvement editors that – was it six batteries or so at the same time you can charge?

    JASON: Yeah, six batteries. Because we’ve got probably about 10 million users out there today and on average, each one of them has about 3 to 5 batteries. So, instead of trying to fumble around figuring out which battery to put on the charger, now you can just put all six of them, if you have six, and you’ll have something ready to go by the time you wake up on Saturday morning.

    The great thing about this is it’s Energy Star-rated. So when things are not – or things are brought up to charge, you can actually – it’ll actually fall asleep until you touch it or it senses it needs a battery charged inside the six batteries.

    TOM: Jason, one last question. If folks want to get started with the ONE+ System, are there combo kits that give them a couple of tools in one package?

    JASON: Yeah, there’s the Super Combo, which is about a – it’s a four-piece, which is a drill, a circular saw, recip saw and a flashlight. And if you want the newest, latest lithium ion, you can also get that under $200. Or if you just want a drill kit, I think it’s now down to about $80 to get a drill driver, two batteries and a charger.

    TOM: Terrific. Jason Swanson from Ryobi, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    For more information, you can visit RyobiTools.com or your local Home Depot store.

    Thanks, Jason.

    JASON: Thank you very much.

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.

    Hey, do you lose 10 pounds in sweat every single time you step up into your attic? Well, you probably don’t have enough ventilation up there. We’re going to tell you how that affects the health of your roof and how to give it a checkup, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are springing into home improvement this hour, featuring lots of cool home improvement products that can help you get lots of stuff done around your house, whether it’s something new that you’re building or perhaps want to save some energy or maybe even something that you want to clean.

    We’ve got a great gallery online right now, featuring some cool products for spring, including the Briggs & Stratton Amplifi Garden Hose Storage System. This is pretty cool because it’s a cross between just a regular garden hose and a pressure washer. So it gives you more oomph than a regular garden hose and less than a pressure washer, which is perfect for lots of cleaning tasks, like scrubbing that patio. It’s all online right now at MoneyPit.com.

    Well, now that the weather is beginning to warm up, it’s a good time to inspect your roof. Not only is it wise to examine it for missing shingles or loose flashing from the exterior, it’s just as important to look at the interior to make sure it’s properly vented.

    Brian Ray is an Owens Corning roofing expert and is here now with some tips.

    So, Brian, what happens to us if our roofs are not properly ventilated?

    BRIAN: Well, ventilation is key to the roofing structure. It introduces fresh air into the attic structure. And so in the summertime, what it creates is fresh air into the underside of the deck, keeping your attic structure cool and bathing the underside of the shingles, which can enhance their – the longevity and the performance of the shingles.

    In the wintertime, it’s equally as important and it introduces dry air into the attic structure. Homeowners create a lot of moisture in taking showers, baths, cooking. And when that moisture gets trapped in your attic, it can obviously …

    TOM: Yeah, it can condense on the underside of the roof sheathing.

    BRIAN: Yes, absolutely. And it can compromise the integrity of the structure, as well.

    TOM: Right. Exactly.

    You know, I spent 20 years as a professional home inspector and can’t tell you how many times I’ve been up in those attics of those homes that were – especially homes that were built when we really didn’t care so much about ventilation. And you probably know what these are: the 1960s, 70s, early 80s. Those roofs never seemed to be ventilated well enough and we used to see a lot of delaminated plywood roof decking as a result.

    BRIAN: Yep, absolutely. So that’s why it’s crucial to add that fresh, dry air into the attic. And it obviously can enhance your – the temperature of your living space, as well, and make your air conditioning and heating work a little bit more effectively.

    TOM: Now, there are a lot of different types of ventilation out there. Some of it seems to compete with each other. In other words, you have some ventilation products that almost will create turbulence by – because they sort of bounce off the effects of the ventilation products that are near them.

    So, for example, if you had a roof – one of these roof turbines, which are just so popular and I think so ineffective, and a gable vent, you’re going to pull a direct stream of air from the gable vent to the turbine and really ignore the rest of the attic space.

    So, what’s the most effective attic system for ventilation, so you know that you’re really maximizing that entire attic space and getting – really washing all that hot air out in the summer and all the damp air out in the winter?

    BRIAN: The most effective is a balance system, which means you equal the intake vents, so the vents at the lower eaves that introduce fresh air, with the exhaust vents.

    And then from an exhaust-vent standpoint, Owens Corning would tell you that the most effective way is ridge venting and that’s along the ridge. And really, the reason we feel that way is that it equally kind of migrates all that hot air, through the stack effect, towards the ridge and then out. So you don’t have these pockets of areas that maybe are under-ventilated or not ventilated at all.

    TOM: Exactly. And then, finally, because Owens Corning is such a terrific manufacturer of insulation, we want to be careful not to block our soffit vents with insulation, by using baffles, correct?

    BRIAN: And that’s a great part in the springtime. When you get up there, obviously, everybody maybe has thrown their Christmas decorations back up in your attic. It’s a great time to get in the attic and look for that daylight. You want to see that daylight making it through the intake ventilation. If you don’t see it, that probably means that your insulation is blocking that. So it’d be great to work back in that area, maybe rake it back so that that fresh air can come through into your attic and increase the longevity of your roof and your house.

    TOM: Brian Ray from Owens Corning, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Great advice on the importance of a ventilated attic.

    BRIAN: Thanks for having me on.

    LESLIE: Well, one mistake that many do-it-yourself decorators make is to overlook electrical fixtures on the wall.

    Now, an ugly light switch or a wall plate can stand out like a sore thumb, especially in a well-dressed room.

    TOM: Well, Leviton has solved that problem with a line called Renu. It can help you avoid that mistake.

    Jay Sherman is the residential director of marketing and he’s here from Leviton to tell us all about it.

    Jay, welcome to the program.

    JAY: Thanks very much for inviting me.

    TOM: It’s very important to look at both the back side of the electrical device and the front side, because that’s what you’re really going to be staring at after it’s installed, right?

    JAY: Correct. We’ve developed a new line of wiring devices, which would include outlets, dimmers and switches. It’s called Renu and what it allows you to do is choose from one of 20 different colors. And you have the ability, thanks to color-change kits, to change the color of the device without having to change the entire device. Once it’s been installed, the homeowner, the do-it-yourselfer does not have to touch any wires after that first, initial installation.

    LESLIE: So the front plate just kind of snaps off?

    JAY: That’s correct. In each product, it snaps off a little differently, thanks to the geometry of the products. But what you just said is absolutely true: you can change the color of the device using it as – now as an accessory to complement many of the features within a room, as easily as snapping off that color-change kit and replacing it with a different one.

    TOM: That’s really cool.

    Now, what about dimmers? You’ve got a new, state-of-the-art, universal dimmer. What exactly does that mean when you say “universal”? Does it work with different types of light bulbs, including, say, CFLs and LEDs? Because that’s really been a challenge lately.

    JAY: I’m going to take a moment to first explain to you that there’s a difference. You just asked me about CFLs and LEDs. Dimmers work with dimmable loads.

    TOM: OK.

    JAY: So, your listeners, your audience should absolutely always look for dimmable CFLs or dimmable LEDs. It does make a difference.

    TOM: So that’s a good point. So there’s a difference between a standard LED and one that’s dimmable.

    JAY: That is correct.

    TOM: OK.

    JAY: And what the universal dimmer does is, whether it’s an incandescent – that familiar lighting load that we have all used for decades – incandescent, dimmable LED or dimmable CFL, it can control, it can dim any of those lighting loads. Many of the manufacturers of the LEDs and the CFLs promote – in fact, encourage – the use of a traditional incandescent dimmer with their lighting loads, with those bulbs.

    And we have found – as an industry, we have found that that just does not work well. That’s why we came out with this universal dimmer. It eliminates many of the very undesirable, unflattering traits that one can see if they’re using a traditional incandescent dimmer with these new, solid-state lighting loads.

    TOM: Got it. So, interesting technology that you guys have coming out from Leviton. You’ve got the Renu Collection, where you can change wall plates and switch plates to match the colors and a universal dimmer that works with dimmable CFLs and LEDs.

    Jay Sherman from Leviton, thank you so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    If you’d like more information, you can visit their website at Leviton.com. That’s L-e-v-i-t-o-n.com.

    Thanks, Jay.

    JAY: Thanks again for inviting me. Have a good day.

    TOM: Up next, saving water should be a part of any smart home improvement plan and it’s not as hard as you think. We’ll tell you a quick and easy way to do just that, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Quicken Loans. Call Quicken Loans today at 888-450-0024 or go to QuickenLoans.com to receive your free home-loan review. They’ll give you their best possible mortgage at their best possible rate, in the shortest amount of time. That number, again, is 888-450-0024. Equal housing lender. Licensed in all 50 states. NMLS Number 3030. Call today. 888-450-0024.

    TOM: And welcome back to our Spring Into Home Improvement Broadcast. We are setting aside today’s show to highlight the best products on the market to help you become a successful do-it-yourselfer. For a complete list of the products that we’re featuring today, head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com and check out the spring products gallery.

    LESLIE: Well, much of the country is still in a drought and even if you aren’t in the drought regions, saving water, it really just makes good sense. The Environmental Protection Agency says if just 1 in every 10 homes switched to WaterSense-labeled plumbing fixtures, the combined national savings would be more than 120 billion gallons of water per year.

    TOM: Well, Delta makes WaterSense faucets that can save water and money without sacrificing that great, invigorating, hot shower in the morning. Joining us to talk about that is Paul Patton. He is Delta’s Senior Product Development Manager.

    Welcome, Paul.

    PAUL: And thank you.

    TOM: And you guys are pretty good at what you do. In fact, you were recently awarded the WaterSense Partner of the Year. That’s very prestigious.

    PAUL: Yes, it is and we were very honored to get that award. And it was nice for them to recognize us for all of the area that we do there on the water-conservation side of our business.

    TOM: So let’s talk about some of the technology that you guys have found. It’s starting with the H2Okinetic Technology. What is it and how does it benefit us?

    PAUL: Well, actually, H2Okinetic Technology is basically – our first goal, of course, is to deliver on that end-user’s experience, as you said there. And what we do with H2Okinetic Technology, which is in the showerheads, we literally use and control that water.

    So what we can do with it is we form droplets. We take charge of how hard it’s going to come out of the front of the showerhead. And we do all of this with no moving parts. So, ultimately, what happens with that, with the larger droplets you get a more drenching shower. And doing all of that, we do it with less water.

    LESLIE: Hmm. But it actually feels like you’re getting more.

    PAUL: Oh, absolutely. And we’ve done a lot of consumer testing in that area to confirm that people really feel like they’re getting more water and actually, we’re using a lot less water.

    TOM: I think low-flow showerheads had a bad rap for a long, long time because they were so poorly designed when they first came out. And we were waiting for great manufacturers, like Delta, to come out with the technology that really creates that experience.

    Because that’s the key. I think that we’re all willing to be greener, use less water but we really don’t want to sacrifice that first shower that wakes us up in the morning. And it sounds to me like H2Okinetic does just that.

    PAUL: Exactly. And that – you know, we really start out with understanding the consumer and the expectations and the tasks they’re trying to do in a shower. And that’s how we developed H2O Technology is because once we understand that – and to your point, nobody wants to get out of a shower and – a lot of people start their day with showers. It changes their moods and affects how they are that day. And so, focusing on that end of it first and then finding the technology to deliver is key to making water conservation successful in the U.S.

    TOM: Terrific. Paul Patton from Delta Faucets. Delta, again, was the 2011 WaterSense Manufacturer Partner of the Year. We’re very happy to focus on you in this section of the program.

    If you’d like to check out the Delta products, you can go to their website at DeltaFaucet.com. That’s DeltaFaucet.com. Or pick up the phone and call them at 800-345-DELTA.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, are you looking for an inexpensive way to live in a totally green house? Well, you might want to consider a modular home. We’ll tell you about the changes in prefab technology, 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.

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

    (Copyright 2012 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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