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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Pick up the phone, give us a call. We are here to help you tackle your home improvement project, your spring spruce-up. Whatever is on your to-do list, let’s get it on the done list. Pick up the phone first, give us a call. We’ll help you take that all-important first step, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up, spring means the real estate season is heating up. And if you’re considering selling your home, one of the most important decisions you need to make is setting the price. We’re going to get tips on how to set the best sale price for your home so that you ultimately get the bottom line you want.

    LESLIE: And as you’re looking for ways to spruce up your home for spring, one way to add pizzazz is with pendant lighting. Now, this is one do-it-yourself project that will really add a wow factor to any room. We’re going to tell you how, in just a few minutes.

    TOM: Plus, as kids head outside, it’s a great time to make sure your playsets are safe. So we’re going to have a safety checklist to look for in your own playset or the local playground, with steps to follow especially if you’re planning to build your own playground this spring.

    LESLIE: Plus, this hour, we’re giving away a Leviton Humidity Sensor and Fan Control.

    TOM: Which is great for damp spaces, like bathrooms, because it will switch the fan on as soon as it detects moisture. The winner is also going to get a Decora Plus Screwless Wallplate.

    It’s a prize pack worth 50 bucks, so call us right now. Let’s get to it, 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who is first?

    LESLIE: Brad in Massachusetts is on the line and wants some help with insulation. What’s going on at your obviously chilly home?

    BRAD: Well, we’ve got a stucco house, three story. It’s a Japanese-style Arts and Crafts.

    LESLIE: Ooh, that sounds gorgeous.

    BRAD: Yeah, it’s different. It was designed by a fellow by the name of Ralph Adams Cram, who was a noted architect back in the day.

    There’s no insulation. We have a cold basement and it’s stucco, as I said. There may be firestopping, I’m not sure, you know, in the walls. And it – that’s unclear. But I’m worried about moisture, so – I’m also worried about a fuel bill. So, what I’m looking to do is – how do I go about insulating this house and – so that we can be warm all winter in this cold part of the United States and at the same time, make certain we don’t introduce moisture problems from trapped water?

    TOM: Well, first of all, this is a wood-frame wall?

    BRAD: Yes.

    TOM: So, this is a good reason to use a blown-in insulation. And so, blown-in cellulose, maybe blown-in fiberglass, coupled – it has to be installed by somebody who really knows what they’re doing, because they’re going to use an infrared scanner to determine those cold spaces. Because you mentioned it may have firestopping. If it turns out you have firestopping for every bay – every section of open 2×4 – you may end up with two holes instead of one. Once they figure out sort of the lay of the land, then I would blow in insulation into those cavities. And that’s going to warm up those walls quite a bit.

    If you use cellulose or fiberglass, I wouldn’t be too terribly concerned about moisture because I think those walls are going to breathe, based on the age of that house. And it’s really not practical to do any kind of vapor barrier at this point.

    BRAD: Yeah, yeah, OK. So, he has to do the due diligence to make certain he fills all these bays up and everything.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But you’d be surprised. I mean I did this in my home at the beginning of – well, it ended up happening at the beginning of the fall. And I did notice a big change in it but I was really surprised that the contractor who did the insulation, which was blown-in from the exterior – and I saw the holes and I saw the pink stuff flying out of it. But nobody would come in and do a thermal scan to show me that the bay – because it’s like a mystery. You’re like, “Is it really in there? Did you really do it?” And I would love to see that to know that, truly, those areas are all filled.

    BRAD: Right. OK. So, is that normally done from outside rather than coming in and tearing up my wallpaper and everything?

    TOM: Well, you have the option of doing it from outside or inside. Now, if it’s stucco and you’re going to repaint the house, repairing stucco is pretty easy and it’s supposed to be rough, so that might be the way to go. Or a combination. If you’ve got some rooms with nice wallpaper, maybe you leave those rooms alone. But if you’ve got some rooms that are just plain, old drywall, then you go ahead and go at it from the inside.

    BRAD: Any choice between fiberglass or cellulose?

    TOM: I personally prefer cellulose. I think that it packs better and it’s got fire-resistance built into it, so you don’t have to worry about that.

    BRAD: Alright, good. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Charlene in Tennessee with a flooring question. What can we do for you?

    CHARLENE: Well, we built our house in 2006 and we purchased, from the mill, solid-oak hardwood planks that we were going to put down for flooring. And it’s 6 inches wide, tongue-and-groove.

    Underneath that, we put – my husband thinks it’s called AdvanTech. It was a 50-year warranty and the mill told us between that and the tongue-and-groove solid oak to put 6 mil of plastic.

    TOM: Alright. So what’s the problem we’re trying to solve here?

    CHARLENE: The problem that we’re solving is in a few areas, one which is mainly the bath and the other is the kitchen, there’s a squeaking noise. It’s like you can’t sneak in that area. It’ll make that noise.

    TOM: So when you go on a diet, your husband can hear you when you try to sneak into the kitchen to get to the refrigerator, huh?

    CHARLENE: Yeah, something like that.

    TOM: Alright. So, look, this has little to do with what is underneath the floor and more to do with just sort of normal wear and tear and expansion and contraction. The reason those floors are – those boards are squeaking is because they’re moving. And so, what you need to do is to tighten them up.

    Now, since it’s a finished floor, you can’t just go willy-nilly throwing nails and screws into it; you’ve got to be a little more strategic. So what you want to do is find the place where there’s a floor joist underneath. And you can do that with a stud finder.

    And once you identify that spot, you drill small holes through the floor and you use what’s called a “trim screw,” which is only a little bit bigger than a finish nail. You screw through the finished floor, into the floor joist, and that will pull that floor down and make it tighter and reduce the amount of movement that it’s capable of. And that’s what’s going to quiet down your squeak. A little harder to do when it’s a finished floor but that’s the way to do it.

    CHARLENE: OK. It sounds like it might be an easy fix.

    TOM: 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.

    Well, it’s time for April showers, so if you’ve got some leaks around your money pit or you’re just getting ready for the spring season, give us a call. 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.

    Up next, are you thinking about listing your home for sale this spring? Well, the most important first step is to set the sale price. We’re going to have some tips on how to do just that, in this week’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors, next.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Foundry Specialty Siding. Foundry vinyl cedar siding gives your home the beauty of real cedar shake without the hassles and worries that come with wood siding. Foundry, unsurpassed beauty and strength. Find out more at FoundrySiding.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. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If you do, one caller we talk to on the air today is going to win a prize pack from Leviton, including the Leviton Humidity Sensor and Fan Control.

    This is a very convenient way to help reduce condensation in areas prone to dampness and high humidity like, for example, your bathroom and your basement. The Leviton Humidity Sensor and Fan Control automatically detects excess humidity in a room and responds by automatically switching on the fan.

    LESLIE: That is just so great, especially if you’ve got somebody in your house who just doesn’t ever remember to put on the bathroom vent fan. So, it really is super-helpful. And then when the humidity level drops, it switches the fan off so, again, a win-win situation.

    Now, our lucky winner is also going to get a Leviton Decora Plus Screwless Wallplate, which is a great way to make the switch look gorgeous.

    It’s a prize package worth $50, so call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Carl in Arkansas is on the line with a thermostat question. How can we help you?

    CARL: I bought an older house and it’s – the thermostat that’s in it now for the heating and air conditioner is an old mercury switch. And what I bought is a Honeywell 5-2 switch, a programmer for 5 weekdays and then 2 weekend days. And what I’m wanting to know is, can I – is that something I can change out myself or is that something I need to hire an electrician to come do? The package says “easy to install” but I’ve looked it over and it doesn’t look like it’s that easy to me.

    TOM: Well, look, if you’re uncomfortable with it, I would not hire an electrician. Kind of heat do you have? Is it gas? Oil? What is it?

    CARL: It’s electric.

    TOM: Oh, it’s electric heat. What kind of furnace do you have?

    CARL: Trane.

    TOM: Is this a heat pump?

    CARL: No, no, no. It’s not a heat pump. That’s one thing I didn’t want was a heat pump.

    TOM: It’s a straight electric furnace?

    CARL: Right. Straight electric furnace and it has an outside unit, which is also a Trane.

    TOM: Uh-oh. Wait a minute. Listen to me. If you’re telling me you have an outside condensing unit that works with this, you’ve got a heat pump. You’ve got the compressor outside and then the furnace inside.

    Now, a heat pump is a combination heat pump/electric furnace. That’s the way they’re designed to work. And the reason that that’s important is because the thermostat that you chose – and I don’t know that this is the case or not but it has to be rated for a heat pump.

    Because the way heat pumps work is when you set your heat – let’s say you set your heat at 68 degrees. It starts getting cold outside, right? Then inside the house, it falls to 67, the heat pump comes on. Still cold, falls to 66, heat pump stays on. Still cold, falls to 65, now it’s at more than 2-degrees split between what it was set at and what it is. The heat pump says, “I can’t keep up with this. I’m going to bring on my friend, the electric furnace.” So now the electric-furnace coils kick on and then bring the house up to temperature.

    But by you not having the right thermostat, what can happen is you can run more of the electric furnace and less of the heat pump, which will significantly increase your electric bill. So, the thermostat you choose has got to be designed for a heat pump.

    So I would say your first thing to do is to confirm – I don’t know if you have an HVAC contractor that you work with but get that system serviced. I mean all these compressors have to be serviced once a year. If you haven’t done it, get it serviced, get the refrigerant checked out. While that guy is in the house, have him install a heat pump-rated thermostat. Because you’re obviously uncomfortable with it and we don’t want you to have all those wires apart and just have a problem where you’ve got no heat or no air.

    So I wouldn’t do it myself, because you’re uncomfortable with it. And when it doubt, don’t do it. But make sure you use the right thermostat. Otherwise, you may drive up those costs unexpectedly. OK?

    CARL: OK. Well, I appreciate it.

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

    You know, even if you can do it yourself, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should do it yourself. And just like Carl said, if he read the instructions and it still seems confusing to him, then don’t do it. If you’re not comfortable with it – and especially with something like your furnace where if you hook up the wires wrong – you’re probably not going to break it but you’re not going to have heat and that could be very unpleasant.

    Time now for today’s Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors.

    Well, if you want to get the best price when you sell your home, setting the right sale price is a critical first step.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Factors ranging from market conditions, even to interest rates, are going to impact what you’ll get.

    Now, home selling is part science, part marketing, part negotiation and part art. And an experienced realtor can help you get a result that you’re going to be happy with.

    TOM: Now, all homes have a price and sometimes more than once price. For example, there’s the price that you’d like to get, the price a buyer would like to offer and that point of agreement in the middle that results in the sale. The pricing of your home is influenced by local home sale prices, also by supply and demand in the area in which you live.

    LESLIE: Owner needs can also impact your sale price. So take somebody who must sell quickly. They’re going to have less leverage in the marketplace and be trading lower profits for that faster close.

    And don’t forget that a home’s sale price isn’t the whole deal. A realtor can help you negotiate other elements, like offsetting your closing costs, funding buyer mortgage points and throwing in repairs or even appealing appliances.

    TOM: And that’s your Real Estate Tip of the Week, presented by the National Association of Realtors. Considering selling your home? Today’s market conditions may mean it’s a good time. Every market is different, so call a realtor today and visit Realtor.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Marie calling in to The Money Pit with a cabinet question. How can we help you today?

    MARIE: I’m in a dilemma over kitchen cabinets. I really like this fairly contemporary look but it’s a slab. We’re at – we’re on the salt water and I’ve been told to maybe stay away from a slab cabinet door because of the way it expands and shrinks. What’s your opinion on that or your advice?

    LESLIE: When you say “slab,” are you talking about a full overlay?

    MARIE: No, it’s an actual slab. I don’t think it’s an overlay or veneer at all.

    TOM: I think you mean a solid-wood door, one-piece wood door as opposed to one that’s made up of panels, like a raised-panel door?

    MARIE: Yes, it’s not a raised panel but you can actually see the pieces of wood – well, I guess they’re glued together. But there’s no raised panels or anything on it.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a solid piece of wood. It’s a laminated door, basically. Solid pieces of wood glued together.

    I don’t know. If the door is made right and the wood is dried when it was built and it’s sealed properly, I don’t think it’s more or less likely to swell than a raised-panel door would be.

    MARIE: That makes total sense the way you put it that way. Why wouldn’t they dry it out first and then seal it properly?

    TOM: Right.

    MARIE: Huh. I never even thought about it in that context.

    LESLIE: The boxes themselves that the cabinets are – the cabinet box is going to be constructed out of a wood-laminated ply so – or something that’s more structurally stable. And I don’t think you have to be concerned about the door.

    MARIE: Hmm, I think, looking at it from that point of view, maybe I won’t be. I’ve had people tell me that they’re just going to get all warped and – but why would they? If they’re – if it is, like you said, a reliable cabinet maker – I guess that would be the question.

    TOM: Right. Exactly. A good-quality cabinet should be dimensionally stable.

    MARIE: I agree with you. Ah, I found a beautiful door and I think I might go for it then. Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

    LESLIE: John is on the line and he’s dealing with a mold situation. Tell us what’s going on.

    JOHN: I have a mold problem around my shower door. I bought the house two years ago. I stripped all the caulking out when I had the mold problem. I’ve put caulking in with a nationally known brand. I even used a Saran Wrap-type thing on my finger to eliminate any contamination. Before I did that, I cleaned it, I stripped it out with a plastic scraper. I also used mineral spirits to clean it out. I put it in and I still have problems with it.

    God, I’m just at my wits’ end here. I run the humidity in my basement between 40 and 50 percent. I leave the shower door open. I even shut the furnace vent off in there to try and keep it so it doesn’t have a breeding of bacteria or anything or mold in that.

    You’re going to tell me what I need to do. I don’t know if I have an off-spec caulking that I used, which is nationally known, or if I have an off-spec aluminum frame and door that causes the mold. I have no idea.

    TOM: Well, look, you’re going to get mold when you have moisture and organic material. And in a shower, that organic material can be soap and dirt and that sort of thing. So you’re doing the right thing but let’s just back it up and try it again here.

    You want to remove the old caulk. You mentioned mineral spirits. I usually recommend a bleach-and-water solution because this kills – this is a mildicide that kills anything that’s stuck behind. After you get that all dried out and cleaned out really, really well, then you can apply a caulk with mildicide. I would use a caulk that has Microban in it. DAP caulks are available with Microban and it’s a good antimicrobial additive that will not grow mold.

    Now, the other thing I would do is I would also make sure that you have – obviously, have a bath exhaust fan and that you have an exhaust fan that’s hooked up to a humidistat, which takes sort of you and anyone else that’s using that bathroom out of the equation. If it’s on the humidistat, it’s automatically going to kick on when the humidity gets high enough to cause mold problems. And it will stay on for some number of minutes when that humidity goes down, to make sure that the room is thoroughly vented out.

    That’s the best way to handle that. And I think if you do those steps, you will find success.

    JOHN: Hey, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Still ahead, how safe is your backyard playset? We’re going to teach you about the danger spots and get tips on playground safety from This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook, after this.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And if you visit us on Facebook, you can get in on our Go Green for Earth Day Sweepstakes. We’re giving away 1,000 bucks in prizes from Staples to one lucky winner, including $500 worth of Sustainable Earth by Staples products.

    LESLIE: Yeah, this eco-friendly line actually helps you lessen your impact on the environment. And it includes everything from office supplies to cleaning products.

    If you “like” our page at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, you can enter there. And if you share the sweepstakes with your buddies, you get some bonus entries.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Standing by to take your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: Well, as the weather turns warmer and kids move outside to play, it’s a great time to make sure that the play areas around your house are properly constructed and safe.

    TOM: Or if you’re thinking that this might be the perfect time of year to build a play area that your children can enjoy for years to come, there are a few steps you need to take to make sure kids won’t get hurt. Here with the answers is This Old House landscaping contractor Roger Cook.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: Glad to be here.

    TOM: So, you know, when the kids hit the playground, safety is obviously the last thing on their minds but it really needs to be the first thing when we’re building these spaces, right?

    ROGER: Yes. I recently read that over 200,000 kids in the United States, under 14, are hurt in playground accidents. And most of those occur in the backyard.

    TOM: Wow, that’s a staggering statistic. So, when it comes to building these playgrounds and building them safely, I guess the first thing we’re certain of is that kids are going to fall, so we want to make sure that that surface is safe. So what are the options?

    ROGER: Well, there are a lot of options and it depends on, number one, money, aesthetics and what you like. So, let’s take a look at a couple different options. Obviously, one is sand.

    TOM: OK. Right.

    ROGER: Now, they say that you should be 6 feet out from the structure that you’re trying to put this material into. That’s a big fall zone. But what you have to do is you have to excavate out the material that’s there and put in 6 inches of sand.

    TOM: So it’s not just dumping the sand on top of the hard, packed earth that’s underneath. That kind of defeats the purpose, right?

    ROGER: No, it’ll just get pushed out of the way and not do what it’s supposed to do. And that’s based on a height of 7 feet. If you get up to 10 feet, you’re going to need 9 inches. If you get up to 11 feet – but first of all, who wants a playset 11 feet? I mean you’re talking about putting in a foot of material, so it’s a lot of work.

    TOM: Wow.

    ROGER: And again, there’s sand, there’s bark mulch, there’s special types of chips that are made for these areas. You just want something that if someone falls, there is a cushioning effect.

    TOM: Now, I’ll tell you, I had a chance to not personally witness but I was there the next day after this happened. This past summer, I was at a high-adventure base where they had a lot of Scouts that were rappelling down walls. And not a Scout but one of the instructors lost his train of thought and he was rappelling down a 40-foot wall and he forgot to hook himself in. And this guy fell about 30 feet. And what was underneath was stone, like 3 feet of stone that they had built under these rappelling walls. And he walked away without a scratch.

    ROGER: That’s amazing. But even something like stone has a little give to it.

    TOM: Exactly, exactly. If it’s properly engineered and properly designed, it really makes a big difference.

    ROGER: Yes.

    LESLIE: Well, I know, because one of the safe choices that they’ve always been discussing is pea gravel. And in my mind, why do I want to jump off of a playground set into pea gravel? But you’re right: as long as you’ve got the depth, it’s got some play to it. And that’s really what you need.

    ROGER: Yeah. The one thing I will warn people about – that the stuff we’re putting in these playsets gets in every nook and crannet (ph) and when the kids come inside, you’ve got pea stone, you’ve got sand, you’ve got rubber, you’ve got everything you can believe coming in the house.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Everything.

    TOM: Well, small price to pay, though, for keeping them safe.

    Speaking of which, let’s talk about the materials that folks are building playsets with. For many, many years, we built it with pressure-treated lumber and we found out that wasn’t such a hot idea.

    ROGER: Well, it’s like gardening. We always used to use pressure-treated around a garden. Now, we’re smart enough to say, “Hey, this isn’t a good thing. Kids could eat or chew on this stuff and we don’t even know it.”

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: It’s just a better choice to go with material like a cedar, which is a natural – resists decay and will last a pretty long time in the soil.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: And I think that’s important, also, because in order for the building structure to maintain its safety, you have to maintain it. So depending on the material that you choose – is going to determine the level of maintenance that’s required, right?

    ROGER: That’s right. That’s right. And a couple other things to think about is when you’re putting in the playset, what’s around it? Is a swing going to bump into a slide or are they going to come off the slide and hit a tree?

    TOM: Yeah.

    ROGER: There’s a lot of things you should think about before you build it.

    TOM: Sort of that fall zone has to be clear, not only from the piece of equipment that you expect them to jump off of but in any sort of intersections of two pieces of equipment like that.

    LESLIE: Or intersection of siblings, pushing and the like.

    ROGER: Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah.

    ROGER: I’m sensing an ongoing theme here.

    TOM: Yeah, I think Leslie has been seeing a lot of that.

    LESLIE: I’m just saying.

    ROGER: I’m just saying.

    LESLIE: I just put in a playground set and so far, it’s been a disaster area.

    ROGER: Well, no one got hurt, though.

    LESLIE: No. Nobody’s got hurt but – “I want a twisty slide.” I get a baby swing for the little guy, the five-year-old is in the baby swing. I’m like, “Wait a second here.” So I can only see as one gets bigger how this is all going to work out.

    TOM: And as those kids do get bigger and they jump on those swings, then the swing is something – that it walks, we used to say, you know, when you swing out? And it lifts – the back of the swing lifts off the ground. So, when you set those posts, it’s kind of like when you’re building a deck or anything else. You really have to have those posts deep in the ground, right?

    ROGER: Yeah, usually these kits that come for the playgrounds have directions on exactly how to anchor them into the ground. And that’s one thing you shouldn’t cut corners, you shouldn’t skimp on. Because, like you said, it’s like a pendulum: that weight gets swinging out away from the center. It’s got a lot of pull on it.

    TOM: Talking to Roger Cook – he’s the landscaping contractor on TV’s This Old House – about how to build a safe playground.

    Now, Roger, besides the playground equipment and the space, what do you we need to consider when it comes to the railings? Because often you hear about kids getting caught in the railings.

    ROGER: Well, there’s a code for the spacing between the railings. It’s either smaller than 3.5 inches or greater than 9 inches. There’s no way that a kid could get stuck in that. If it’s 3.5 inches, they can’t get between it; if it’s 9 inches, they can go in and out without getting stuck.

    LESLIE: Roger, now, when it comes to safety, is there anything we should be looking for annually or twice a season to make sure that the whole structure is in a good shape?

    ROGER: I always take and inspect the structure, especially if there’s ropes that are supporting a swing, for example. There’s good places for wear and tear to occur and if it does, then it could break and give way. A lot of the metal parts can rust and not be detected and can let go, also. And this happens more so in a place that would be – at a school where it really gets a lot of use and not very much inspection. Then there is a good chance you could find a problem.

    TOM: Makes sense. Roger Cook, the landscaping contractor from TV’s This Old House, helping us keep our kids safe.

    Thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    ROGER: Oh, you’re welcome.

    LESLIE: 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 This Old House is brought to you by State Farm. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

    And still to come, does your house need a little pick-me-up? We’ve got a great do-it-yourself project that will add interest to any room: installing your own pendant lighting. We’ll tell you how, when The Money Pit continues, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Foundry Specialty Siding. Foundry vinyl cedar siding gives your home the beauty of real cedar shake without the hassles and worries that come with wood siding. Foundry, unsurpassed beauty and strength. Find out more at FoundrySiding.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 the number here is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, one of you callers that gets on the air with us and asks their home improvement question is going to win a $50 prize pack from Leviton. And it includes a Leviton Humidity Sensor and Fan Control.

    Now, this control senses high humidity levels in your bathroom or your basement. And once it does that, it will automatically turn your vent fan on.

    TOM: Other features include three user-friendly, adjustable settings for customized control. And the humidistat meets CALGreen requirements for indoor air quality and exhaust.

    The winner is also going to receive a Decora Plus Screwless Wallplate, so lots of stuff there going out to one caller drawn at random. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, pendant lights are a popular choice these days and for good reason. They’re sleek and can add style and drama to your lighting. And if you’re just swapping out an old fixture, this can be an electrical project that you can do yourself. But if your existing wires are brittle or if you need to run some new electricity to, perhaps, a new spot, it’s really best to call in an electrician.

    TOM: Now, the cool thing about pendant lighting is that it’s suspended from the ceiling and it brings the light down exactly where you need it. There’s a wide variety of shapes, sizes and styles. They range from a 4-inch diameter sort of mini-cylinder to massive, 30-inch domes.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And they can be very affordable, as well. A 4-inch, colored-glass, mini-pendant, which you’ll see at home centers, they can start around $25. And you can use them to light up a workspace, like a kitchen island, a prep zone or even a desk in your home office. And they can also cast a warm glow in a dining room or an entryway.

    Now, what’s really cool that I’ve seen, as far as pendant lights go, is that if you’ve got a ceiling can, I’ve seen these adapters that sort of screw in as if it were a light bulb of its own. And then it has a cap that covers over the old ceiling can and then a cord that hangs down and it’s an instant pendant light. So, no electrician required there, even.

    TOM: Now, that’s a very cool idea, because I’ve got some ceiling lights like that in my room and they’re all in a row. And boy, that would be kind of a really neat way to do a quick makeover, wouldn’t it?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Well, when it comes to the switch, remember that dimmers are really the way to go for controlling pendants because this way, you can adjust the light in the evening and you can create some very attractive patterns with it.

    Any way you choose, though, pendant lights are a really nice addition to your home. So, think about it the next time your home needs a little pick-me-up.

    888-666-3974. If you need some help picking up with your home improvement project where you left it off, give us a call, right now, because we are here to do just that.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Pam in Illinois on the line dealing with a flat roof. Tell us what’s going on at your money pit.

    PAM: We are having a problem finding a leak on – our roof is – we have a roof that’s flat but it has a slope to it. We have our air-conditioning units that sit up there, along with the roofing vents. We’ve used that white vinyl to seal it; it’s a rolled roofing, you know. We’ve sealed it with a white vinyl.

    Around the air-conditioning units and the vents, we’ve used the black mastic tape but we can’t seem to get – to seal them. So do you have any suggestions? Something that would work?

    TOM: So, do you know where the leak is?

    PAM: Well, we’re thinking around the vent or the air-conditioning unit.

    TOM: Have you tried to take a garden hose up there and strategically sort of flood that suspected area to see if you can cause the leak to happen?

    PAM: No, we haven’t.

    TOM: So that might be a good next step. Start low on the roof, because it’s sloped, and flood that area with the garden hose for 15 or 20 minutes. And then if nothing happens, move it up a few feet and a few feet and a few feet to see if you can narrow down the exact area where the leak is happening.

    You’ve got a difficult situation, Pam, because first of all, rolled roofing is the weakest roofing material out there when it comes to low-sloped roofs. Secondly, you’ve got an air-conditioning compressor on the roof, probably sitting on 4x4s or something of that nature. So when the – where the air conditioner sits, as it goes on it vibrates. And so that vibration breaks down that roofing material, makes it really difficult for you to get something that’s leak-free.

    If the roof was built in a different way – and by that, I mean if the rolled roofing was stripped off right down to the sheathing and the roof was built with maybe a rubberized roof or something of that nature; and there are special types of support mechanisms for air conditioners that have flashing built into them ­- then you wouldn’t be having this issue.

    So there’s no sort – there’s no easy way to kind of make this go away. All I can really suggest is that you strategically try to find out where this leak is and then focus your tarring-application efforts right around those spaces. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be easy to find it but once you do, hopefully you can identify the weak link. And then, as a matter of preventative maintenance, you can get up there and then reseal it every once in a while.

    PAM: OK. Well, you’ve certainly helped us and given us a lot of food for thought.

    TOM: Alright. Happy to do so. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Still to come, are you running out of storage space? Please, who isn’t? A backyard shed, that could solve that problem. So we’re going to share some tips, after this.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And right now, if you log on to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit, you can enter our Go Green for Earth Day Sweepstakes and win 1,000 bucks in prizes from our friends at Staples.

    Now, the winner is going to get $500 in Sustainable Earth by Staples products. These are eco-friendly options for everything from office supplies to cleaning products.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And the winner is also going to get a $500 Staples gift card. All you have to do is head on over to Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit and “like” us and you’re automatically entered.

    Now, if you share the contest with your friends, all of a sudden you’re going to get some bonus entries, which is super. Because who doesn’t need $500 to spend at Staples?

    Alright. And while you’re online, if you feel like posting us a question in The Money Pit Community section, I’ve got one here from Joanna who writes: “I’m thinking about a shed for my side yard. What should I look for in a shed and is this something that I need to have professionally installed?”

    TOM: Well, a shed is a great home improvement project to take on. And I think the first thing to consider is what you’re putting this shed on. Too many times, I’ve seen folks just buy sheds – either ones that are pre-assembled or there’s ones they have to assemble themselves – and set them right on the earth. That’s a bad idea.

    Now, you don’t need a foundation as if you were putting up an addition but it is a good idea to put something down that raises the elevation of the soil just a bit. Perhaps a brick paver patio would work well so that you get a brick surface as the shed floor and you get the shed walls up a bit.

    Now, when it comes to materials, there’s obviously lots of choices out there. Take a look at the folks from Arrow Sheds. That’s ArrowSheds.com. They make some electro-galvanized steel or vinyl-coated steel products.

    Now, there’s also vinyl sheds and I’ve found those to be somewhat – sometimes a little bit floppy, so you need to buy a good-quality one like, for example, something from Lifetime Products. Or you can do what I did and build your own shed out of wood framing. Just frame it up just like a mini little house.

    And either way you go, though, it’s a great, fun project. But I’ll give you one word of advice: make sure you check with your municipality because some of them have rules about how big the sheds can be, how close to the property lines they can be and so on. So you don’t want to buy a shed or build a shed and then find out you’ve got to tear it down, because that would be bad.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got a post from Sean who writes: “I want to put a pool in my backyard. What steps do I need to take as far as space planning and checking with my town?”

    TOM: Well, you certainly do need to check with your town because there are rules, there are zoning laws about what you can put in your house and how big it can be and so on. So the first step is to check with the local construction authorities to find out what you’re allowed to do and then go ahead and get a plan together to actually do it. But don’t just talk to a contractor until you check your zoning first, because you may not be able to do it or if you can do it, you might need a variance and that can be very expensive.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And Sean, you’d be surprised because when we put in central air conditioning, our condensing unit sat 6 inches outside of the zone for where I could place it. And I needed to get a variance for that. It’s not a terrible process. Just time-consuming.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air, online at MoneyPit.com. We hope that you are enjoying spring. Certainly, in most parts of the country, it’s starting to get a bit warmer right now and enabling us to get outside, get some fun projects done on the outside of our house or do a little redecoration after being stuck inside through that long, chilly winter.

    Whatever project you have in mind, MoneyPit.com is your resource for tips and advice. And you can always post your questions during the week to our Community section at MoneyPit.com. And one of the community members or perhaps even Leslie or I will jump on there and give you an answer.

    That’s all the time we have for today’s program. Thank you so much for listening.

    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 2014 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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