00:00/ 00:00
  • 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: On air and online at MoneyPit.com. We are here for you, to help you with your do-it-yourself projects or to help you with projects that you want to have a pro do but you just don’t know where to start, how to get the best deal. Maybe you’re trying to sort out what you’re being told by your contractors, your friends, your husband, your wife. Give us a call right now and we will help you get to the bottom of that. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Because when it comes to home improvement, everybody you talk to wants you to do it their way or has a horror story to report so that you don’t make the same mistakes that they did. Why not make no mistakes? Pick up the phone and call us. Let’s talk about your project. We’ll help you get started on the right foot. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Because this is what we do and have done for a very long time.

    Coming up this hour on the program, are you among the last, dying breed of homeowners that does not have an automatic garage-door opener?

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOM: Well, if so, it’s time to come out of the Dark Ages. Well, you don’t have one because you’ve got a really – your garage is in the Dark Ages.

    LESLIE: It is.

    TOM: They don’t make an opener that will lift up – it looks like a drawbridge on a castle – to open your garage. So, they don’t make that.

    But for the rest of you folks that just have normal garage doors, you know, it’s time to think about getting one, because there have been some very significant advances in garage-door openers, that make them easier to use and a lot safer to use than the openers that have been on the market for so many years. We’re going to talk about that, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And also ahead, is your laundry room in the same general area where your dirty clothes tend to pile up? Or do you find that you’re one of the many folks that still has to carry laundry up and down stairs to get that job done? Man, I am like tick marks on two of these openers. What’s wrong with me?

    If so, we are going to tell you guys how to create a new laundry room on an upper floor of your home so that you actually don’t need to work quite so hard when it comes to doing the laundry chore.

    TOM: And this hour, we’re giving away a great prize that I think is pure genius: it’s a paint that turns any surface into a DIY erase board. It’s called CLEAR, from IdeaPaint. We’re giving away enough to create a 50-square-foot area of writing space. It’s worth 225 bucks, so give us a call right now if you’d like a chance to win. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    We will toss all names of callers that reach us this hour into a Money Pit hard hat. And if we choose yours at the end of the show, you will get that great prize called CLEAR. So let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Steven in South Carolina is on the line with a water heater that seems to be leaking and it’s only four months old, so that’s not good. Tell us what’s going on.

    STEVEN: Leslie, I consider myself a home improvement master.


    STEVEN: And I put in this new water heater in a rental unit that I have: a rental unit/townhouse. And I went over there the other day and noticed that the pressure-relief valve is slowly leaking. And I can’t figure out why it would be leaking.

    TOM: Well, Steven, there’s two reasons it could be leaking: the first is that you have a bad pressure-relief valve; the second is that your water heater is not working correctly and it’s actually building up excess pressure. And as a result, the valve is doing exactly what it’s intended to do, which is to open up if the pressure in the valve exceeds – or the pressure in the tank exceeds 150 pounds. So which is it? That is the question.

    And I wouldn’t recommend that you do this project yourself. But I guess the first thing I would do is probably replace that valve and see if it continues to happen.


    TOM: The other thing that you could try to do is you could try to let a little bit of water out of it. Since it’s already leaking, it’s probably not going to get much worse. We almost never tell people to do this because sometimes if there is a little crud in the water from dirt or debris that’s inside the plumbing system in your house, it can actually make the leaking worse. But if it’s already leaking pretty bad, I would open and close that little valve lever – the lever on the side of the valve that releases some pressure – a few times. Just let some water blast out of that and see if it resets.

    But if it continues, then there’s something wrong with the water heater and it’s doing its job.

    STEVEN: Well, let me ask you this. What about – I put it in the same way it was installed 10, 12 years ago. And it’s just the hot water out, cold water in. And isn’t there some kind of a diaphragm-type valve or something that can go on the newer water heaters?

    TOM: It doesn’t – it’s not for that, OK? You may be talking about a water-hammer arrestor but this has nothing to do with the pressure in your water heater. The water heater is an appliance that’s designed to work by itself. It’s designed to heat the water and deliver the water to your domestic system. And specifically, if it’s not doing that correctly, in terms of this valve, it’s going to open up and prevent it from rupturing.

    So, no. The water heater is not supposed to leak and if it is leaking, something’s wrong – either a bad valve or a bad water heater – and you’ve got to get to the bottom of it.

    STEVEN: I appreciate your insight.

    TOM: Alright. Good luck with that project.

    STEVEN: Yeah, hopefully. Hopefully, it works out for me.

    TOM: Alright. I’m sure it will. Steven, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    GLORIA: Yeah. Oh, hi. I’m calling about the product, SUNDEK. It’s also called Kool Deck. And I really just find – it’s that product that keeps your feet very cool? I had a pool put in and so when you get out of the water, it’s nice and cool on the feet; you don’t have the hot cement.

    But I find it very hard to keep clean. It looks kind of unsightly and when it rains, it just seems to attract dirt. Prior to the SUNDEK, I had cement and I found that it dried very quickly. I could take the hose and it was all very fresh. And this product just tends to hold water. I believe it’s an acrylic base. I just wondered, you know – I don’t know if I could even have it removed somehow, kind of with some solution or if there’s some suggestion about how to take care of it.

    TOM: Gloria, I don’t think you have to remove or strip the Kool Deck paint to get it to clean it. Kool Deck is actually made by a company called Mortex – M-o-r-t-e-x. Their website is Mortex.com. And they make not only the Kool Deck but they make a cleaner that can be used on top of that; it’s a commercial-quality cleaner. So I would go to their website and look up the Kool Deck product, look up the cleaners. There is a website – there’s a – sorry, a link and a telephone number there where you can call and purchase the product. I don’t think you’ll find it in a home center or a hardware store; you may have to go direct. But we have the technology. No need to repair or replace what you have. You can keep it clean.

    GLORIA: Well, thank you so much. That’s going to be wonderful. I really appreciate your help.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Summer is almost over. Time is running out for those long hours of daylight. So if you’ve got a project, we’ve got an answer at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, is your garage-door opener ready for an upgrade? We’ll talk about the safest new additions in garage door-opening technology, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: Got a wood-staining project to do? Finish faster. Introducing Flood OneCoat Waterproofing Finish, the wood stain that lets you finish the same day you start. Most wood stains can’t be applied until days after prep. Flood OneCoat Waterproofing Finish can be applied just hours later. Learn more at Flood.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: Call us right now. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. This hour, we’re giving away a very cool product to one of our callers. It’s called CLEAR. It’s from IdeaPaint and it can turn any wall into a dry-erase board. You simply apply it directly over the painted wall or even wood to create a seamless think-space that matches any décor.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And what a great idea for a home office or even a home homework area. I mean it really is perfect for your back-to-school organizing.

    Now, it’s virtually odorless and it comes with a 10-year warranty. And one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a kit that will cover 50 square feet. Give us a call for your chance to win and of course, help with your home improvement project at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Now that will probably work well in your house. In my house, it won’t work at all, though, because my kids have a really hard time telling the difference between the dry-erase markers and the permanent markers. They look so much alike. I can’t tell you how many of those dry-erase boards I’ve had to throw out because it wasn’t worth trying to scrub off the permanent marker that got on them. But I’m sure that’s only a problem in this house.

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

    LESLIE: Jason in Delaware is on the line and needs some help with an electrical update at their money pit. Tell us what’s going on.

    JASON: Hi. Well, let’s see. We bought an older home: probably like 1940, 1950. It’s a great home. No doubt about it. We thought we were going to have a bunch of problems: we thought we were going to have to replace the roof, we thought we were going to have to replace the foundation. But it’s pretty much like somebody built the house and never really lived in it.

    TOM: I think we’re getting to a “but.” Everything’s great but what’s happening?

    JASON: But the breaker box is outdated. And the total cost of replacing that – hiring a certified and professional contractor and everyone – the electrician to do it – is going to cost us around $5,000.

    TOM: Alright. Why do you say it’s outdated? What’s wrong with it?

    JASON: It’s a 100-amp box.


    JASON: And you can’t run more than two air conditioners in the house at one time.

    TOM: Take a breath. I’ve got great news for you, alright?

    JASON: What’s that?

    TOM: You don’t have central air, right? You’re running window units?

    JASON: Window units.

    TOM: You do not need a new panel. A hundred amps is way more than enough power to run that house. What you need …

    LESLIE: Unless you’re planning on making those updates.

    TOM: Yeah. What you need are some new circuits, which are easier to run.

    JASON: OK.

    TOM: You see, the reason you’re tripping those breakers is because whatever circuit those air conditioners are on is pulling more power than that one circuit can handle.

    Now, most circuits that go to bedrooms, for example, are 15-amp circuits. You put an air conditioner or two on a 15-amp circuit, it’s going to pop, especially an older air conditioner that’s not as energy-efficient, because it’s going to start pulling more power. And if you happen to have those two air conditioners on the same circuit, there’s not a chance that you’re going to be able to run that when you have to.

    What you do is you add more circuits. So you add another circuit that’s just for that air conditioner, from the point where it’s installed to the panel. Put that on its own 15-amp circuit and there you have it; you’re done. No $5,000 for a new panel.

    See, this is another example – when electricians come in and they size you up and they give you a price on doing a job that you really don’t need. A hundred amps is a lot of power. I doubt in a house that’s probably gas-fired – is that right? It’s gas-powered?

    JASON: Yes.

    TOM: So you have a gas-powered house, so you’ve got gas heat, gas stove, gas water heater. You know, if you pulled 30 amps when everything was running in that house, I’d be surprised. So you don’t need a new box; you need more circuits.

    JASON: OK. Well, thank you, guys, so very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. Save the money. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, are you one of the few homeowners that has to jump in and out of your car to open the garage door? I think it’s safe to say that it’s kind of a pain in the neck, the back and a few other places, as well. So it might be time to look into an automatic garage-door opener. Or maybe you’ve got one and need to upgrade it.

    Regardless, here is what you need to know. There are three basic types. The first is the chain drive. These can be noisy if your garage is connected to your house but they’re also very powerful for heavy doors. There’s also the screw-drive type and they’re very good for one-piece doors that are tilt-open. And finally, the belt drive is the quietest but also the most expensive.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And here’s another thing you need to keep in mind: you want to make sure that your garage-door opener is equipped with a rolling-code technology. This means that when you push the button on your remote, a coded signal is sent to the receiver in your garage. Now, rolling codes change the signal every time you use it so burglars cannot figure it out.

    You can also get some systems with a keypad entry and these are great because you can program a different code, say, for your cleaning service or repair technician who might be coming in. And then you can turn off that code when you need it and when you don’t need it. When the guy is done or the cable guy is finished, you turn it off; he can’t get back in. And there’s even high-tech models that will allow you to open or close the garage door from your iPhone.

    Why do I feel like, Tom, you’ve already got that?

    TOM: There’s an app for that.

    LESLIE: I feel like you have this already.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your next home improvement project.

    LESLIE: Janet in Illinois is working on a decking project. How can we help you with that?

    JANET: We have ordered the material for the flooring of the deck and it’s going to be waterproof and where we have a patio beneath it. And we would like to finish the underneath side so that we can do some canned lighting or – and/or some ceiling fans. And wondered what the best product would be to finish the underneath side.

    LESLIE: To sort of waterproof it, block it from any sort of water, be it rain or snow, getting to that lower underside.

    JANET: Well, the top product is going to do that. So we just want to finish it so it’ll look nicer than just having the wood showing from the framework.

    TOM: OK. Will this be exposed to the weather from the sides, though? I understand you’re putting a roof over the top but will there be sides on this or is it possible for wind and rain to blow in?

    JANET: It will be possible for wind and rain to blow in so, yeah, we would want that.

    TOM: So you do need a good-quality product that’s going to seal and protect the wood.

    So in that case, Leslie, I guess I would go with solid-color stain, a deck stain.

    LESLIE: Yeah. But I think you’re looking for a material, first, to put on the ceiling, correct? Other than wood.

    JANET: Right. Yes.

    TOM: Oh, for the ceiling? The underside of the ceiling?

    JANET: Yes.

    TOM: How about AZEK?


    TOM: Yeah, A-Z-E-K. Yeah, AZEK is an extruded PVC product that’s available in many different finishes. It’s synthetic, so it doesn’t rot and it doesn’t need paint.

    JANET: OK.

    TOM: So if you go to A-Z-E-K.com and look at a lot of the sheet products …

    LESLIE: Yeah. I bet there’s a beadboard or something that would look like a shingling or a paneling for the ceiling.

    TOM: Right.

    JANET: OK.

    LESLIE: That could be very lovely.

    TOM: Right. But the deck surface is also going to need some protection. So that – for that surface, I would use a solid-color stain.

    JANET: Alright. Sounds wonderful.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Randall on the line who’s looking for a solution to leveling a slab foundation. Tell us what’s going on.

    RANDALL: Well, the foundation – looked up at the eave of the house and it’s cracked out about a ½-inch. And it’s going – well, looks like I need to get a slab foundation leveled and I’ve always hated slabs but this was a nice house when we bought it.

    Anyway, I want to know what’s the best solution for that in our type of soil in the – around the bottom. It’s the Red River area, north of Dallas.

    TOM: So you’re interested in stabilizing the foundation or just leveling it for cosmetic reasons?

    RANDALL: Both.

    TOM: Hmm. OK.

    RANDALL: Leveling it permanently where it’s everything’s like it should be.

    TOM: Randall, are you seeing any cracks or you just noticed that it’s sort of up in this one corner?

    RANDALL: It’s in at the peak of the house where the roof line – at the peak. I looked right up here up the side of the wall and there’s about an inch crack and it’s coming down. And I noticed it when I had to repair my air conditioner because the blower motor went out.

    TOM: Alright. So this is not a floor. This is a wall when you say it’s going up to the peak?

    RANDALL: The wall. But the floor in the kitchen has got some lumps in it. I thought it was carpet but it’s not.

    TOM: OK. So, here’s what you need to do. First of all, in terms of the floor in the kitchen, you’re going to use a resurfacer product for that. It’s called a floor resurfacer. It’s a powdered mix that you add water to and basically trowel it on. And you can even out the floor and it frequently uses sort of an underlayment to either resilient flooring or vinyl flooring or ceramic tile.

    And it comes in 50-pound bags. QUIKRETE makes it. It’s called, again, a QUIKRETE floor resurfacer, self-leveling product. And it’s basically a compound that you mix up, you spread it out. You can level your floor with that.

    Now, in terms of the crack that’s on the exterior, would you consider this hairline or is it open quite a bit?

    RANDALL: Oh, it’s open about almost an inch.

    TOM: OK. You need to have this inspected. That’s a major crack; that’s not a minor crack. And we need to find out why that’s happening. So you’re going to have to contact either a professional home inspector or a structural engineer. Because if your wall opens up a full inch like that, then I’m concerned about some movement under the foundation on one of the opposite corners that would force that to happen – cause that to happen.

    RANDALL: Right. I know there’s got to be movement there when I’ve seen that.

    TOM: Yep. Yeah, because it’s – right, there’s no other way to explain it. So, you’re going to have to get this inspected and let me tell you why that’s very important that you do it once and do it right. It’s because someday you’re going to want to sell this house and when you have a major crack like that, somebody’s going to want to inspect the house. And if they see that crack and they don’t see a real professional repair, they’re going to ask you about it.

    And what you want to tell them is that “yeah, I identified the crack; I had a structural engineer come out and inspect it.” “The engineer gave me a report, told us how to fix it. Then I had a contractor come out and fix it. Then I had the engineer come back and reinspect it and here’s his letter saying everything is great.” And that becomes, in effect, a pedigree on that structural repair so that any future buyer will have no concerns whatsoever about anything else happening to that wall.

    So that’s what I would do is I would have it inspected, get the advice, get it fixed and then you can move on.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Still ahead, paint is one of the least expensive ways to transform a room but how do you know which sheen is best when walls start to get dirty? There are differences in the cleanability of finishes like satin, flat, eggshell, high gloss and so on. And we’re going to cover that, in just a bit.

    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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a new, very cool product from IdeaPaint called CLEAR, which can actually turn any wall into a dry-erase board. So a good product for your kids’ rooms, your kitchen and so on. This way, you can write on the wall and let them know that it’s perfectly OK. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Chad in Illinois is on the line with a flooring question. What can we do for you today?

    CHAD: My question is concerning my linoleum floor I have in my kitchen. It was damaged probably during installation and before we moved in, they cut out little squares and they patched it up. Well, over time, those squares have come up and gotten brittle and rolled over and it looks horrible.

    And I want to know, is there a way that I can repair that, kind of like the way they did: just cutting out a square or two from a closet or underneath a stove? What kind of adhesive to use – or am I just fighting a losing battle and should I just save the money and replace the whole floor sometime?

    TOM: Well, if it’s an older floor like that, it might not make sense to keep fixing it. Especially when you consider that remnant vinyl is available, laminate is available. The prices on this have gone way down. I mean you can buy laminate floor now for probably as little as about $3 a square foot.

    So not expensive, pretty easy to install, all lock together. And actually will last a long, long time. And I’ve had laminate floor in my kitchen for 20 years and it’s really not showing any wear whatsoever.

    So I think, given what you’ve been through with this, it’s probably time to move on.

    CHAD: Alright. My wife would totally agree with you.

    TOM: Alright. OK. Well, we’ve now given you our blessing. Go ahead and buy some new flooring, OK, Chad? Make your wife happy.

    CHAD: Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. Take care. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Kathy in Minnesota on the line who is doing a kitchen-revamping project. Tell us what’s going on.

    KATHY: These cupboards are varnished and they had hinges on that were on the outside, so they’re kind of like the barn-look (ph) hinge and also the handles, the ends that were anchored. When we take those off, the wood under there is much, much lighter.

    TOM: Right. Mm-hmm.

    KATHY: And so we stripped the door completely and sanded it to be ready to take on a new stain. And those areas do not absorb the stain.

    TOM: Yeah, they probably have some sort of a sealer or something that got under that. After you sanded it, did you use a sanding sealer on the whole surface?

    KATHY: I did not. In my experience, I’d always put the stain on first and then use a …

    TOM: Well, it’s not a sealer at that point; it’s a finish.

    But one thing I’m thinking they could have helped, Leslie – and you tell me what you think – is that if she used a sanding sealer, she may have improved the absorption rate of all the wood so that it was maybe a little evener, a little more uniform. So that it would have all soaked in at about the same level.

    Can you get any stain to take in those areas? Even if you take dark stain and put it on with a small paintbrush? Or will nothing stick to that?

    KATHY: No.

    TOM: Well, all I can say is that something is applied there that’s sealing the wood and unless you can get it to absorb, it’s going to be a problem. Those old hinges, they didn’t look so bad after all, did they?

    KATHY: I kind of get that feeling.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah. If you’ve already sanded it down and you still can’t get the stain to absorb, there’s probably nothing that you’re going to do that’s going to change that.

    Listen, the other thing that you could do is paint the doors. I mean there’s a lot of painted cabinets today; they look pretty nice.

    KATHY: Yes. Yes. And we’re looking at other options but wanted to be sure that we really had to go that route.

    TOM: As long as you sanded it thoroughly and you still can’t get it to absorb, then I say that you’ve done all that you can do at this point, Kathy.

    KATHY: OK. Alright. Well, I appreciate your taking my call.

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

    LESLIE: Pat in South Dakota is on the line and looking to replace some windows. Tell us about the project.

    PAT: I am going to replace some windows in an old house. And I am wondering what type of window to go with: a wooden window, a vinyl or a fiberglass.

    TOM: In terms of energy saving?

    PAT: That’s right.

    TOM: OK. So the answer is it doesn’t much matter, because there’s a lot more to determining what type of window is going to be energy-efficient than just the material it’s made out of.

    PAT: I see.

    TOM: There could be extremely energy-efficient windows in all of those materials. But there are dozens of things that go into the energy efficiency of the window: not only what the frames are but what the glass is made out of, what the weatherstripping is made out of, what the frames are made out of and so on.

    So what I would do is this, Pat. First of all, I would only shop for Energy Star-qualified windows. Secondly, there’s a label on the glass and it’s from the National Fenestration Rating Council – NFRC label. It’s going to have a set of numbers on there. It’s going to measure stuff like how much heat gets through the window and how much insulation the window has and so on. And look at the numbers on the NFRC label and use those to help compare brand to brand to brand.

    You stick with a really good-quality window, like an Andersen, just as a new replacement window, for example. It just came out: their Model 400 Series. You really can’t go wrong. But the decision isn’t just what’s the window made out of but it’s the whole package and how that impacts the energy efficiency of your home.

    PAT: OK. Alright. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Well, still to come, are you tired of dragging your laundry up and down dark stairs because your washer and dryer happen to be on different floors than your bedrooms? Hey, I’m talking to most of you out there. We are going to help you bring a dreaded chore into the light with a main-level laundry. It’s not as hard as you think. We’re going to tell you how to make it happen, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: Got a wood-staining project to do? Finish faster. Introducing Flood OneCoat Waterproofing Finish, the wood stain that lets you finish the same day you start. Most wood stains can’t be applied until days after prep. Flood OneCoat Waterproofing Finish can be applied just hours later. Learn more at Flood.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. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. This hour, we’re giving away a very cool product. It’s called CLEAR, from IdeaPaint.

    Now, it can turn any wall or piece of furniture, I guess, for that matter, into a dry-erase board. And now there’s no need to think inside the box; you can just apply CLEAR directly over any painted surface or even wood and get a big idea-space to match your big ideas.

    I think, however, in my home it would be very difficult to explain to a four-year-old that you can only draw with markers on this and not that. “And over here but no, not there.”

    TOM: Too many rules. Too many rules, Mom.

    LESLIE: Too many rules. So I think I would probably need enough CLEAR to paint everything that I own.

    Now, one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a kit that will cover 50 square feet. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Larry from Arkansas on the line with a heating-and-cooling question. Welcome, Larry.

    LARRY: I want your opinion on the radiant barriers for insulating the attic or the roof. The two questions that I have is it comes in rolls that are either placed on the attic floor or stapled to the roof rafters. And the other is a flexible material that is held in place by spring action between the roof rafters. That comes in 2×4-foot sections that can just be bowed and placed – and set it place and a spring action holds them there.

    TOM: So, it’s a good question, Larry. We hear a lot of folks ask about radiant barriers and I personally am just not convinced that there’s a cost-benefit analysis out there that favors installation of these things. They’re not inexpensive; they do cost some dollars. And I do have a couple of concerns.

    One of which is that when you trap the heat just on the opposite side of the roof sheathing and then attempt to sort of radiate it back up through the roof sheathing again, obviously it’s passing through the shingles twice and that’s going to accelerate the deterioration of the roof shingles. Because the more heat that gets through those shingles, the shorter the roof life.

    I think that if you’re trying to save money in your home, I would concentrate on two things. Number one, I would concentrate on the amount of insulation, because most folks don’t have enough. In an area like Arkansas, you’re probably looking at somewhere between 19 to 22 inches of fiberglass-batt insulation or 22 inches of even blown-in insulation.

    The second thing I would concentrate on is attic ventilation, which I have rarely, rarely, rarely seen a house that really has enough of this, because the standards don’t require what I would consider enough. What I would have, if it was my home, is a continuous ridge vent going down the peak and then fully-opened soffit vents on the ends of the building. Because that’s going to allow air to get into the soffits, right up under that roof sheathing, take the heat out with it in the summertime, take the moisture out with it in the wintertime and exit at the ridge vent.

    And I think those two things are the smartest energy-saving home improvements that you can make. And I would put those way in front of any consideration whatsoever for radiant barriers. I’m just not convinced there’s enough data on them to say that they make a cost-effective improvement to your home.

    LARRY: Our air-conditioning bills in the summertime are still over $225 a month and …

    TOM: Wow. Right now, you’re spending $220 a month on air conditioning in the hottest months of the year. So, if you cut that in half – let’s say you spend $110 a month – it would still take you 2½ to 3 years to pay that off. But I don’t think you can cut it in half. I think you may cut it a little bit but I think the payoff’s going to be so long it’s not going to make sense.

    Alright? That’s my two cents on it. Hope that helps you out. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Well, if you find that you’re constantly navigating narrow stairs with a laundry basket in your arms and probably trying to turn a light switch on with your elbow, it’s time to bring the laundry room to you. More new homes have washers and dryers in hallways, kitchens and bathrooms. But even if yours doesn’t, it has never been easier to move your laundry room upstairs.

    For example, a stacked washer and dryer, they can be small enough to fit inside of a closet. And if you’ve got a closet or even a corner near a bathroom, it should not be that hard to run that plumbing to this new laundry area.

    TOM: That’s right. Now, another option is a combo unit that washes and dries clothes without any help from you. This looks like a normal washing machine but it actually does the work of two machines. And you won’t have to move those wet clothes from one to the other, because the washer is the dryer and the dryer is the washer and so on.

    So, think about it. Bring your laundry room to you instead of you having to schlep all the clothes to the laundry room and cleaning your clothes will be far, far less of a chore.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Holly in Iowa who’s dealing with some yucky ice coming from the ice maker. That sounds terrible, considering how much I love ice. Tell me what is going on.

    HOLLY: Yeah. It’s great to talk to you both.

    We got a new refrigerator. It has the freezer on the bottom and it came with an ice maker. And our old refrigerator had an automatic ice maker on the top. And I don’t know if it’s the original water line when the house was built but the ice comes out – it smells bad, it tastes bad so that we won’t even put it in drinks, because the drinks take on that kind of icky, musty smell.

    TOM: OK.

    HOLLY: And wondering is it a matter of replacing the water line? Does it need to be flushed? A filter? We’re not quite sure which way to go.

    TOM: Right. Well, I mean the easy thing to do here is to replace the water line, if you can get to it. Ice-maker water lines are about the easiest plumbing project that you can do because they attach to their supply pipes by what’s called a “saddle valve.” And a saddle valve basically pierces the copper line and makes space for the water to come through and into the ice-maker line. And it’s plastic tubing, too; it’s not even metal.

    So I would replace the ice-maker line. I would also put in a filter – a charcoal filter – on the ice maker, since you’ve got such a problem with taste. I think between those two things, you should turn this right around.

    HOLLY: So is a charcoal filter the kind that you put on the back? See, there’s no water in the door.

    TOM: It doesn’t go inside the refrigerator; it goes into the water line.

    HOLLY: Right, in the back.

    TOM: Yeah, it could be behind the refrigerator; it could be wherever the water line connects to the supply. Anywhere it could be is fine. Just one tip, though: make sure you write a date on your calendar when you put that in and remember to replace the filter as time goes by. I think – usually they last about a year.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. You know, a big, beautiful fireplace is a great focal point for your home, especially in winter when you’ve got a roaring fire going. But if you’ve been staring into a big, black hole all summer with no idea how to dress it up, worry no more. We’ve got some ideas for summer-friendly fireplace design, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by LIQUID NAILS. For tough jobs, demand the extraordinary strength of LIQUID NAILS Brand Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive. It bonds a wide range of materials, indoors and out, for a job done once, done right. Learn more about LIQUID NAILS Brand Heavy-Duty Construction Adhesive at LIQUIDNAILS.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: Hey, you’ve got a home improvement project in mind? You’ve got a question that’s burning? Why not join The Money Pit community for great project ideas, info and advice from your fellow DIYers and Leslie and myself, too? You can also write your own blog or post pictures that you can share on Facebook. It’s all in the Community section of MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And C. Brown posted a question there and he wrote – or she wrote; I don’t know. Sorry to assume you’re a dude. “I have a well with pressure tank and want to put a filter on the system. Should the filter go before the pressure tank or before the pressure-tank pump?”

    TOM: Well, first of all, if you’ve got a well-water system, then you’re going to have tested the water, I hope, Mr. or Ms. Brown to make sure that the water is of good quality. If you have tested it and the water is of good quality and you just want to put a filter on it for taste, I think I would put that after the pressure tank. So that would be the last thing that the water would pass through before it enters to the domestic water piping inside your house.

    Be sure to follow the maintenance instructions on those filters, though, because far too often I find people that leave those filters in place way longer than they’re intended to. And if you do that, they can definitely become unhealthy and clogged up with contaminants. And they can also slow down the flow of water throughout your entire house.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? I have to say, C. Brown, it’s one of my favorite chores at my mom’s vacation house. My husband and I, now that we know where all of the turn-off valves are on the new system, minus a mishap a year or two ago, it’s still my favorite chore.

    TOM: But it’s a great story, though.

    LESLIE: What a mess. Oh, what a mess.

    Alright. Lisa from Nebraska posted: “I’m a new, first-time homeowner. I’m going to change all the paint colors inside and can’t figure out what finish to use. I have kids who love to make messes.”

    Well, Lisa, you’re going to look for a matte sheen. And I’m only going to say that because a lot of the manufacturers make a matte paint that is scrubbable. Eggshell, you go to wipe something off, it’s going to be a disaster. Flat paint, same thing; it’s going to get chalky. Semi-gloss, I don’t want to put it on a wall. Great for trim. But a matte paint that is scrubbable is probably going to be your best bet.

    Alright. Good luck with that.

    TOM: So, you’ve been staring at that big, black hole that is your fireplace all summer and you just can’t figure out how to make it look a little more appealing without that roaring fire. Well, just because you’re not using the fireplace doesn’t mean it can’t look good. Leslie has got some tips on dressing up that hearth, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, a fireplace that’s not being used can actually be an eyesore in your room, depending on, of course, the look of the fireplace, the size of the hearth. It really depends on – and on how much you like it, actually. But there are some great ways to dress it up and incorporate it into your décor scheme.

    Now, replace those logs for the summer season with a group of large pillar candles or even a stylish candle holder: something that’s multiple levels, different size candles. It could be really beautiful, even when it’s not lit.

    Here’s another idea: you could put some fresh flowers or some plants in there, maybe some orchids under some glass bell cloches, some ferns, anything that will really do well in some shade because, obviously, it’s not getting a ton of sunlight in there. But it’s going to add a punch of life to your room.

    And finally, consider a fireplace screen. They look great. If you don’t want to buy one, you can actually make one out of plywood. Now, of course, this isn’t one that you would use during a fire itself. But if you make one out of plywood, you can paint it with maybe your family’s initials or an interesting sort of faux finish or some stenciled patterns. You can put a family photo on there, something interesting, something different just to cover up that big, black hole into nothingness for the rest of the season.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on the program, we’ve got outdoor entertaining tips to make your Labor Day weekend a great one. We’re going to teach you how to grill safely, clean up right and even how to host the perfect backyard bash. It’s all coming up on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


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

Leave a Reply


More tips, ideas and inspiration to fuel your next home improvement, remodeling or décor project!