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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 right now at 888-MONEY-PIT because we are here to help you with your fall home improvement project. What’s on your to-do list? Let’s move it over to the done list with a call to us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s show, would you like to give your walls a new look? Well, you want to keep in mind that paint is not the only option. We’re going to have some tips this hour on how to use wall coverings, rather strategically, to add real interest to your décor.

    LESLIE: And as we get into the swing of the holiday season, you’ll notice the kitchen is getting quite a workout. But we’ve got ideas to keep your appliances in check. Coming up, tips to keep your fridge from putting a chill on your energy bills.

    TOM: Plus, we’ll also bring you the latest on the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort here in New Jersey, at the Jersey Shore, as we continue our behind-the-scenes, exclusive look at This Old House: Jersey Shore Rebuilds, sponsored by Red Devil. Now, this week, we’re going to learn about the progress that is being made by two Sandy victims who decided to save as much of their homes as possible.

    LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away a $50 gift card to True Value, which is a good place to stock up on supplies for your fall do-it-yourself projects. Or you could even use it online at TrueValue.com. True Value can provide both the inspiration and the personalized advice that you need for your fall project.

    TOM: And we can help you with that project, as well. So pick up the phone and give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

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

    DOUG: I’ve got a 30-year-old home here in Northeast Texas. Wanting to know the best way to upgrade my insulation in the attic. It has what I would call – it looked like a recycled newspaper, maybe, blown in there. Probably about 2½, 3 inches thick. And wondering if I could just blow a new type of insulation on top of it. Or do I need to do preparation first?

    TOM: Yeah, you can add additional insulation and that makes a lot of sense. But I would not put new insulation on top of that old insulation. Because the old insulation is probably settled down, compressed and it’s not insulating as well as it should. So what I would recommend is that you remove the existing insulation.

    Then, if you want to go with blown-in, there’s actually a product out now that allows you to do your own blown-in insulation. It’s from Owens Corning and it’s called AttiCat. And the way AttiCat works is you go to your local Home Depot and you purchase the bags of AttiCat insulation. And if you buy 10 bags, they will give you the blowing machine for free. The rental – there’s no charge for the rental.

    And then the blowing machine gets positioned outside your house or in your garage or whatever. The insulation packages slide into it. It’s almost designed as a slot; you put it right in the side. You take the hose up to your attic and it’s remote-controlled, so you can turn the machine on and off and control the flow.

    And then, this type of insulation gets into the nooks and crannies, it expands nicely and it’s low dust. So it’s a very easy way to do your own blown-in insulation and get a really good, contiguous, solid application of insulation in that attic.

    LESLIE: And a targeted application, as well.

    TOM: Yeah. And you could do a whole house in about four hours.

    DOUG: OK. Great. Well, I appreciate the advice. I’d like to maybe get a big vacuum cleaner to get the old up.

    TOM: Yeah. The new insulation will go in in four hours. Getting the old stuff out, though, that’s going to be a day. Good luck with that project.

    DOUG: Alright. Thank you for your help.

    LESLIE: Pam in Vermont is on the line with a flooring question. How can we help you today?

    PAM: I have an oak staircase. You walk in my front door and the slate – there’s a slate walk with an entryway. And then there’s an oak staircase going upstairs. It’s really pretty but I’m scared to death kids are going to just slide right down the whole staircase and end up on the rock. I found some spray stuff. And it looks like they put sand in clear paint. And I’m wondering, if I put that on, am I going to ruin the staircase?

    TOM: There’s a line of products called SlipDoctor and they make products for wood, for vinyl, for stone. And with any of those products, what I would suggest you do – because you want to make sure that it’s going to clean well after it’s on, it’s not going to attract dirt. So, try it in an inconspicuous area, like maybe your neighbor’s house?

    PAM: I could do that.

    TOM: And see how it works. I mean no, try it like, I don’t know, in a closet or even take – get a board, finish it with urethane and spray it on the board, see what it looks like. And really test it out before you commit your staircase to it.

    LESLIE: Yeah, my concern is that – how difficult would it be to clean? It’s like you’re taking, oh, a shiny, wood surface and now making it textured. Is dust and dirt going to stick in there? But it’s a staircase, so how much do you get there? You’ve really got to give it a test run.

    TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t want it to be tacky all the time, you know? You wouldn’t be able to dust.

    PAM: No, I wouldn’t want it to be tacky but I also want to make sure that they – my kids are barefoot half the time, too, so I want to make sure they can still walk on it.

    TOM: Yeah. And the other thing that you can consider doing, though, is you could add a carpet runner right down the middle of the stairs. Have it professionally installed so that the center of the step has a carpet runner on it and the sides are still exposed. That’s kind of the way we did our staircase in an 1800s house and it takes that issue away. It’s not slippery, you walk up the carpet in the middle of the stairs and you can still see the finished railing on the edge of the step – the edge of the treads.

    PAM: Yeah. So I think maybe that would be a good solution if the other doesn’t work.

    TOM: Good luck with that project.

    PAM: Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Now you can call in with your home repair, home improvement, home holiday décor question. Whatever you are working on, we are here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Still ahead, as we head into the heavy-duty holiday season, your kitchen appliances will be getting a serious workout. And that can drive up energy costs. We’re going to teach you how to cut those costs, with tips to operate your refrigerator more efficiently, next.

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

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    One caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a True Value gift card for 50 bucks. True Value is where you’ll find local experts with personalized advice for all of your do-it-yourself weekend projects.

    TOM: To find a local store near you, visit TrueValue.com. And for more project ideas and advice, visit StartRightStartHere.com or follow True Value on Facebook.

    Our number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us right now for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win that $50 gift card to True Value and TrueValue.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Stephanie in Colorado on the line who’s installing some French doors. How can we help you?

    STEPHANIE: My husband and I have sliding doors in our bedroom that go outside. And we have French doors that we have – they’re all ready to put in; they’re framed. And I was just calling to see if you had any advice about putting them in.

    TOM: Well, let’s presume that the French doors and the sliding doors are going to fit in the same opening, to start with. Is that correct?

    STEPHANIE: The French doors are a little taller.

    TOM: Ah, that’s a problem.

    STEPHANIE: Just about an inch.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a tough inch to pick up when it’s in the height like that. The thing is, you’re going to have to figure out if you have enough room to get those French doors in, Stephanie, without having to cut or modify the header that’s going to be above the sliding door. Because the distance from the floor to the bottom of the header, that’s called the “rough opening.” That’s the rough, vertical opening. And that rough, vertical opening has got to be taller than the distance from the bottom of the French door to the top of the jamb of the French door. Because if it doesn’t, you’re not going to get that French door in that opening. It’s absolutely critical that the rough opening be sized properly.

    So, you could probably figure that out by just pulling the molding off from the side of the slider. And you’ll see enough of the framing there where you could get a pretty good measurement as to how much room. Sometimes, there’s a fair amount of room above the sliding doors until you get to the header and maybe you’ll have that room.

    Now, if you’ve got the room, putting that French door in is – it’s not a basic, do-it-yourself project. I’m just going to tell you that right off. But the way I would approach it is – the first thing I would do, if it was me, is I would take the slider out one panel at a time. You want to try to make this as light and manageable as possible. So you remove one panel, then the other. Then you pull out the slider frame.

    And you put the French doors in the same way. You take the doors off of the hinges. And what you actually “hang” inside the opening is just the frame of the French doors without the physical doors in place. Just the outside jambs. Because that’s very easy and lightweight to handle and if that’s installed properly and square, then the doors will pop in right after that with minor adjustment. But that’s the way you approach it.

    Again, not a basic, do-it-yourself project. Putting a door in is one of the more tricky projects. So if that’s above your skill set, I would definitely hire a carpenter or a handyman to help.

    Alright, Stephanie? Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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

    LESLIE: Alright. It’s Thanksgiving and that means turkey and all the trimmings, as well as my favorite: a whole lot of leftovers. And when it comes to keeping those leftovers around for another meal, a fridge that’s running at its best is key. So you can improve your fridge’s efficiency with a few simple steps.

    TOM: First, you want to make sure it’s not too cold. Actually, you want to make sure the fridge is between 37 and 40 degrees. That is the optimal temperature. And make sure that the seal is airtight so cold air isn’t escaping. And an easy way to test this is simply by inserting a dollar bill in between the door. If it slips out when the door is open or closed, the gasket is not working and it’s time to replace it.

    LESLIE: Now, it sounds like a no-brainer but you need to cover your leftovers. Uncovered foods and liquids are going to release moisture, which makes the compressor work even harder. And you might not know that a nearly empty fridge uses way more power than a full one. Foods and liquids collect and store the cold, so your fridge works harder to maintain that cold temperature when it’s empty.

    Also, consider downsizing to a smaller one, if you find yours too big, and you’ll save a bundle.

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

    LESLIE: Kurt in North Carolina is looking to replace an air-conditioning system. How can we help you with that?

    KURT: Yeah, I went out of town. My wife ran the air conditioner last summer and anyway, it had a leak in it. And I found the leak but I was wondering if – probably the compressor probably got damaged because she ran it for a week. I’m pretty sure it overheated so I’m probably – would like to replace it and I’m wondering if there’s a – I’ve seen in magazines and on the internet they have these little units, basically, for a room or a garage. Would that be more economical? They say like 18 SEER and better?

    TOM: OK. So, a couple of things. First of all, because she ran it when it was low on refrigerant doesn’t necessarily mean that she damaged it, alright? As long as it’s been fixed, the hole has been repaired and there’s no further loss, I think it’s fine.

    Now, it is 18 years old. It’s probably not as efficient as the newer ones but I think what you’re talking about is a through-the-wall, split-ductless system. And a split-ductless system is good for specific areas of your house.

    I have one in an office. Leslie has one in a basement. They supplement the rest of our main, central air-conditioning systems. But for an entire house, you wouldn’t generally put split-ductless throughout the whole house because you’d end up needing a half-a-dozen compressors outside.

    So, I think if you do get ready to replace it, you just replace the compressor. But just because it has a leak and it ran low doesn’t mean you have to replace it. Does that make sense, Kurt?

    KURT: OK. Would I actually have the Freon put in it to test it or …?

    TOM: Yeah, I would have it serviced. And I would have it serviced and see if it holds.

    KURT: OK. Alright. Well, I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Laurie in Nevada is on the line with The Money Pit. Has got a question about a cement sink. What can we do for you?

    LAURIE: Yeah, hi there. Yeah, we – you know, I’m helping my parents out with their very old home. Unfortunately, we’re really low on funds, et cetera, et cetera. We have a sink in our old home; it’s in the basement. And the sink is part of the washer/dryer setup there. And it’s an old cement sink that has a crack in it. I was hoping that we could do something to repair it just until they’re ready to move on, because we’re trying to do the downsizing and stuff.

    TOM: OK. Is the crack really severe where it’s in two pieces or is it just like one crack that – where water gets through?

    LAURIE: Well, it’s kind of like a little forked crack that’s in part of the sink, on the base of it, so …

    TOM: So, what I would recommend is you use an epoxy on this. There’s a product called PC-7. It’s sort of like a putty and it comes in a container that has the A part and the B part and you mix it together. And so it ends up being, when it’s mixed together, kind of like Play-Doh. And you can press it into place and get it troweled out and pressed into this crack. And leave it alone for about 24 hours and it will never, ever leak again.

    So good luck with that project and thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Don on the line who’s looking for some ideas for the patio. How can we help you?

    DON: Hey, I’ve got a little 8×12 concrete patio. It comes off the back of my money pit and I’m looking at ways to shade that. I know I can put something on the house: one of those shades you can buy that will extend automatically. But I’m also looking for different options.

    TOM: Do you care about keeping the weather off of it or you just want to shade it?

    DON: I just want to shade it. I’m not so much interested in keeping the weather off of it. I’d like to shade it in the summertime and I’d like to let the sun in in the wintertime.

    TOM: What about a pergola, Leslie?

    LESLIE: Yeah. I mean a pergola could be a really great idea. It’s a simple-ish build, depending on the design that you go for. It’s basically sort of a shade structure that has some open bays sort of in the ceiling of it, if you will, for lack of a better word.

    And what you could do with those open areas, a couple of different options. You can either plant or have beautiful, decorative pots with vining/climbing/flowering foliage that will grow up and sort of cover over in the arbor top of the pergola itself. Or you can even get – it’s a tracking system with sort of these ball rollers that go into the tracking system on the sides. And you could put fabric in between, so you can pull the fabric closed or open, depending on how much shade you want to get to the space.

    DON: OK.

    LESLIE: So it really depends on the look that you want.

    DON: Where do you get the tracking systems?

    LESLIE: Now, Don, the company that sells the tracking system for pergolas – or they even sell the entire tracking plus fabric. And you can sort of do individual bays or do the full width. Depends on how much shade and how much fabric you want to see. It’s a company called ShadeTreeCanopies. All one word; that’s their website. And they have a retractable awning kit for pergolas.

    DON: Wow. That sounds cool. That’s what I’ll try to do and I’ll see if I can’t go that route. I do appreciate your help.

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

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Shay from Tennessee on the line with a washing-machine issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    SHAY: There’s a smell coming out of my washing-machine drain. It was like that when I bought the house.

    TOM: Can you describe the drain? Does the drain go into a pipe or does it go into a sink? What’s the drain look like?

    SHAY: It goes into a pipe.

    TOM: And is the smell kind of a sewer smell?

    SHAY: Yes.

    TOM: So it may very well be that that drain does not have a trap in it. Now, if you’ve ever looked under a sink and see the U-shaped drain pipe, that’s known as a trap. Because what it does is it gets filled with water and then it stops sewage gas from backing up that drain and getting into the house. But sometimes when I’ve seen washers installed, it’s kind of almost an afterthought; it doesn’t seem to get the same kind of care and attention that a sink drain would. And if that happened to you, they may have put that in without a trap.

    The solution is pretty easy, though. You can add a trap by extending that drain pipe and then adding that U-shaped trap to it. If you have the U-shape trapped in there, you will not get a sewer-gas smell because that gas can’t back up through the pipe. Does that make sense?

    SHAY: Yes, it does.

    TOM: So it’s a minor plumbing repair but it should solve it.

    SHAY: OK. Thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Up next, can a home be rebuilt to withstand a storm with the force of Hurricane Sandy? That’s what many Hurricane Sandy victims are asking. We’ll have some answers, when our exclusive, behind-the-scenes coverage of This Old House: Jersey Shore Rebuilds continues, presented by Red Devil.

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

    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.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Well, when Hurricane Sandy made the Jersey Shore its direct target, hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed. Now, a year later, This Old House is documenting the renovation of three of these homes in three iconic Jersey Shore towns.

    TOM: And The Money Pit has been given exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to bring the stories of these renovations and the victims behind them, presented by Red Devil. Now, in this week’s episode, we’re going to learn what is being done to not only rebuild homes but also to rebuild them to withstand future storms.

    LESLIE: You can watch both This Old House: Jersey Shore Rebuilds and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station, both brought to you by GMC. GMC, we are professional grade.

    Here’s our report.

    TOM: Ah, if everything in life were as easy as the ABCs. But for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, the letters A and V take on a very different meaning. And they could be the difference between spending hundreds of thousands of extra dollars to rebuild storm-battered homes or not.

    A and V are the names of flood zones mapped out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Essentially, these zones tell building professionals how high a home needs to be to avoid being severely damaged by future storms. After Hurricane Sandy struck, FEMA revised these zones, as homeowners waited to learn how high their newly rebuilt homes would need to be. Important because when it comes to raising a house, the higher it goes, the more money it takes to get it there.

    In Bay Head, New Jersey, a small shore community on the barrier island, Jed and Christine Laird’s rebuilding efforts came to a complete standstill as they waited to hear what zone their home was in. But as it turned out, Christine was very glad they took their time making that decision.

    CHRISTINE: You know, we waited to decide how high to lift and how to do it. We learned that we are not a V-zone after all and we’re an A-zone, which doesn’t make a difference in the height we’re taking it to but it makes probably $100,000 worth of difference in what we’re putting under the house. No helical pilings. We don’t – we’re not on the beach; we don’t need to really be worried about wave action and that type of thing. But by waiting to raise the house and to determine the structure underneath, we saved thousands and – hundreds of thousands, potentially, on actually doing the rebuild.

    TOM: For the Lairds, waiting paid off because their zone actually changed from being one where water damage and wave action was likely to occur to one where that’s a little less likely scenario. The Lairds’ general contractor is Kevin d’Anunciaçao. And he says that determination had a big impact on how he approached the project and why it’s so important to all of Sandy’s rebuilding efforts.

    KEVIN: Well, down the shore, they have two zones. See, they’re in A-zone or V-zone. A V-zone meaning is there a break in a wave? Would a wave hit the house? A-zone, a wave would not hit the house. So this was – ended up being in the A-zone, so now we’ll do soil borings and then determine the foundation we’re going to use.

    TOM: Once the zone was set, the Lairds’ team next had to decide what to save and how exactly to save it. Their solution was a creative one: leave the second floor of the house as is and rebuild the first floor underneath it. And as This Old House Master Carpenter Norm Abram explained, the process happened in stages, making work on the home’s structure and mechanical systems a lot easier.

    NORM: Well, basically, they got rid of all the debris first. And we only jacked it up 4 feet because you want it to have a comfortable work height. You don’t want to jack it up 10 feet, where it might end up, because it’s very difficult to work at that height. So we jacked it up 4 feet, put in some temporary steel beams as a temporary foundation for the time being and then framed a new floor.

    TOM: Raising the home also gave Norm a chance to see how delicate the home’s structure had originally been, something not that uncommon to an area where many of the homes started as summertime vacation cabins and they transformed over decades upon decades to year-round residences.

    NORM: When I walked around the side of the house, I looked at the foundation and I have never seen anything like this: a one-brick-wide – one brick wide – foundation that was probably only in the ground a foot or so. And underneath many of the floor joists, around the perimeter of the house, somebody had gone – crawled into this 18-inch space and put a 2×4, a piece of firewood, whatever, underneath the joist so that they would stay up rather than collapse into the crawlspace. So it was time to fix that floor.

    TOM: It was time, indeed. And that’s, perhaps, one of the silver linings in all of this. The homes that are being rebuilt are being built stronger and sturdier and ready to withstand future storms. In fact, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we saw, time and time again, that homes which were more recently built to modern building standards stood firm while homes to the left and to the right were simply washed away like sand castles at high tide.

    Jack Purvis is an architect in Monmouth County, New Jersey and says he is not at all surprised the older homes didn’t fare very well.

    JACK: You can almost date the building type by the amount of damage that it has. Anything that was – that’s been done with the current UBC code pretty well withstood the hurricane damage and the water. But when you got back to houses that were pre-zoning or pre-code, they failed immediately. Or things that were done back in the 60s and 70s are having trouble to withstand this – the power of the storm that we had.

    TOM: The storm was devastating and the rebuilding stressful but the result? Relief. In Point Pleasant, New Jersey, the work to raise Carlos and Maria Santos’ home is just about done. And Maria says she is no longer afraid of what the future may bring.

    MARIA: We have our raised house. We have a safe house. Even if this similar storm were to happen, I don’t think I would be as nervous as I was in previous storms and so I’m very excited. We’ve made some minor renovations to the back of the house, so it’s going to be nicer, safer and I’m very excited about it.

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

    TOM: 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 here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Get on the air with us right now and we’ll toss your name into The Money Pit hard hat to win a $50 gift card for True Value and TrueValue.com.

    Now, True Value has inspirational ideas on how to use that gift card for your next weekend project on their Pinterest page, as well.

    LESLIE: True Value is your one-stop shop for all the tools, supplies and advice to get your do-it-yourself fall weekend project done right. You can also get project ideas at StartRightStartHere.com and find your local True Value store at TrueValue.com.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: John in Oakhurst, New Jersey – maybe Tom’s neighbor – has a question about a water heater. How can we help you today?

    JOHN: Yeah, we just literally had a water – a new water heater installed today. We started to have some leaking coming out of the top where – I guess where the input and the output lines go in. So we had a new one put in; we knew that was failing. But the installer suggested and recommended to us that we flush it once a year. And although that sounds like it makes sense to me – I know there’s a lot of people who don’t do the – I just want to get you guys’ opinion on whether that’s really important to do that annually. And if you don’t, what’s the downside of that?

    TOM: Well, the reason that you flush a water heater is because you get sediment in the bottom of it and the sediment acts as an insulator. It doesn’t really cause any harm to the water heater and I think in a situation where you have city water, it’s not as important as when you have well water. It’s sort of an old wives’ tale; it’s kind of something that people always started doing and not really ever stopped doing or understand why they do it.

    There’s nothing really wrong with flushing it. The only downside is that you may find that the valve that you open up at the bottom of the water heater once a year, one of these years it’s not going to want to shut again and you end up with an expensive repair. So I don’t think it’s critical but I don’t think it will hurt you unless the valve gets kind of gummed up at some point and starts to leak.

    JOHN: That’s a good suggestion, Tom. I appreciate that.

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

    Well, it’s time now for The Money Pit’s Pinterest Tip of the Week, presented by Citrus Magic Air Freshener.

    Now, this hour, we’re going to talk about how to use your walls to bring some color and pop to your décor.

    LESLIE: Now, wall coverings can have the biggest impact on a room’s décor scheme, both in design and if you’re not careful, your wallet. Fortunately, affordable products are making it easier than ever to achieve professional results on a do-it-yourself budget.

    TOM: Now, when you’re looking at wallpaper, you want to choose the best-quality paper you can afford and then use it sparingly. Consider papering a powder room, for example, or just a focus wall in the family room. You can also use wallpaper inside squares that are trimmed out in molding in a dining room. Just paper the bottom half of the walls, under a chair rail. You get the idea.

    LESLIE: Also, get this: wall murals. They’re kind of making a big comeback, possibly because so many of them are temporary and easy to remove when you’re ready for a change. And they’re not just for kids’ rooms.

    Now, here’s a great idea, too. You can actually use a full wall photo that’ll go up like wallpaper. You can get one of a forest, which is great for a walk-out basement or a bonus room, or maybe even a sports-themed mural for that man cave.

    TOM: And that’s your Pinterest Tip of the Week, presented by Citrus Magic Air Freshener. There’s magic in the air.

    Hey, you can visit The Money Pit’s Pinterest page and check out our Tip of the Week Board for more on this idea and many others.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we’ve got Brent. You’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    BRENT: I’m trying to figure out a way I can quiet the noise – lower the noise level – on our new home that we built. Our home is basically an open-concept: high ceilings with a lot of wood, tile. Well, I’m wondering – no window coverings. But when our – I’ve heard that you can change out your pulleys, like maybe on your fan blower, to lower the noise level. Is that possible doing or not? Have you ever heard of that before?

    TOM: So, the noise that you’re trying to reduce is the sound of airflow from your HVAC system?

    BRENT: Yep. We have a heat-pump system and like I said, our house has mainly a lot of wood: our ceiling is wood, we have a lot of windows. And when it kicks in, it just roars, you know what I mean?

    TOM: You get a whistling sound when the blowers come on?

    BRENT: No, just the actual airflow that you hear. And just trying to find a way to absorb that noise or maybe just – I’ve heard that, like you say, you can slow that – maybe the flow of the air down?

    TOM: Well, depending on the system, you actually can adjust the fan speed.

    BRENT: Right.

    TOM: But there may be a point of diminishing returns if you reduce the fan speed: you may not get the air moving throughout the house where you need it. Unfortunately, this is an installation issue when it comes to how the HVAC system was designed.

    Now, also, if you have metal ducts, you could be getting some vibration in those ducts and those ducts could be dampened or reinforced with a few modifications. For example, if we get a duct that makes a lot of noise, sometimes you can take a piece – an additional piece – of metal and attach it to the top of the duct in a diagonal fashion and that will reinforce it and take some of the flex out of the duct and reduce the vibration noise.

    So, there are a couple of small tweaks like that that you could try. But what I might recommend you do is the next time you have your heating system serviced, that you spend some time and maybe let the company know in advance that you want to speak with one of their technicians about reducing noise and see if there’s anything else that could be done. You also, for example, could insulate some ducts that might be accessible and that might quiet some of the noise, as well.

    So this is going to be a series of small steps with small improvements, not big steps with big improvements. OK, Brent?

    BRENT: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: One of the most effective ways to save money and energy this winter is with a programmable thermostat. We’re going to have tips on one that programs itself, next.

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

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Hey, you can “like” us on Facebook right now for a chance to win one of three great prizes we’re giving away in this month’s Weekend Warrior Sweepstakes, including a set of power tools from Black & Decker. We’ve got a string trimmer, a hedge trimmer and a blower vac up for grabs. Just check out the Weekend Warrior Sweeps at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: Alright. And while you’re online, you can post your question in the Community section of MoneyPit.com, like Pat did who writes: “I have a programmable thermostat. I want to know the best way to use it. My husband would like to set it down to 55 after we leave for work” – that sounds really cold – “then have it come up to 68 degrees an hour before we get home. I think that’s too much of a difference and suggest that it just goes down to 62 when we’re out. What’s your opinion? Does the furnace have to work harder with such a big difference from the lowest to highest temperature?”

    TOM: Well, I mean first of all, using a programmable thermostat is a good idea. Every degree lowered equals 1 percent of savings on your energy bill. And the difference, though, between choosing a low temperature, like a 55, and something a bit higher, I think, more has to do with the risk of freezing.

    Because if you set your temperature in the house at 55 and it’s a super-chilly day, there may not be enough heat that kind of wafts through the exterior walls to keep those pipes warm, especially those that are maybe prone to freezing. So 55, usually we don’t set thermostats at 55 unless we’re completely winterizing the house. So I would go up a bit more. I think 62 is fine.

    Now, with that said, I want to suggest to you that if you’re going to purchase a programmable thermostat, you look into the Nest thermostats – N-e-s-t. I love the Nest thermostat; I have one myself. It’s got some really cool technology built into it.

    For example, it knows if no one’s home; it’s got sort of a motion-detecting capability. So what’s neat about it is that if you do go out midday or something like that or something even that you didn’t program it for, it’s going to know there’s no motion. That means there’s nobody in the house. It’ll automatically move it down to that lower temp. And believe me, that adds up to big-dollar savings over the course of a year.

    LESLIE: Alright. Next up, we have a post from Marietta who writes: “I have well water and water in one of our bathrooms has a foul odor. I have old, galvanized pipes from which I am told is causing this. My question is this. It only started happening about five months ago. What do you think?”

    TOM: I wonder if this is an old, galvanized plumber who’s telling her to replace the old, galvanized pipes because he needs the job.

    Well, here’s my thought on this. First of all, if it’s only happening in the bathroom, it’s not likely being caused by the pipes, right? Because, presumably, they’re the same pipes you have all over the house.

    What is more likely to be happening in that bathroom is you’ve got some biogas that is coming up the trap. And biogas can basically happen when you get some algae that grows inside of the vents and it grows inside the traps. And what you need to do is to take the traps apart in the sink and thoroughly, thoroughly clean them. If you do that, you may find that the odor goes away, especially if this is just in the bathroom.

    You know, sometimes we get sulfur odors when water has sat for a long time. But if you’re only getting it in one room, it can’t possibly be the pipes or frankly, the water supply; it’s got to be on the drain side.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Good luck with that because it is a really super-stinky smell. And if you give it a good cleaning, I bet you’ll make it go away.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this beautiful fall weekend with us. We hope we’ve given you some tips, some ideas, some inspiration to tackle your next home improvement project. We are here to help, 24-7, by the way. You can always reach us at 888-MONEY-PIT. You could also reach us on MoneyPit.com. Just post your question in our Community section.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2013 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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