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  • 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: Happy Holiday Weekend, everybody. Hope that you are enjoying this weekend, taking some time to rest, relax and perhaps pick up a hammer, pick up a saw, pick up a paintbrush and get a home improvement project done. What? You haven’t done that yet? Well, pick up the phone and call us and we’ll help you. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Between us, we’ve done it all and screwed it up more times than we’d like to admit. So, with that wisdom, we can help you be more successful than we are with your home improvement projects.

    We’ve got a great show planned for you. You know, a new year means all kinds of new goals. And if your goal this year is to save money – and whose isn’t? – this hour, we’re going to tell you five ways you can cut your utility costs.

    LESLIE: Plus, with the second half of the school year just underway, now is a great time to think about how you might help your little scholars with a new homework space in your house. We’ve got tips coming up on how to create a home-office area that will truly boost their grades.

    TOM: And also ahead this hour, we’re giving away expert advice. Oh, well, we do that all the time, though. Except this time, it’s in the form of an autographed copy – or as we like to say, a graffiti-ladened copy – of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure, your complete guide to all things home related, signed by Leslie and myself. Going to go out to one caller who reaches us with their project. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Kathy in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?

    KATHY: I have a problem with the squirrels chewing into my roof.

    TOM: OK.

    KATHY: And I was wondering, how can I – what can I repair this with and what can I put in there to keep them out?

    TOM: Now, where are they chewing? Are they chewing through the trim or the soffits trying to get into the attic space? What’s the story?

    KATHY: Well, they have gotten into the attic space.

    TOM: The holes. Are you repairing those holes or what are you doing?

    KATHY: No. I was calling you to see how you could help me, because I listen to your show all the time and you give such good advice.

    TOM: Well, if they get into your attic, you can trap them and release them. You can use something called a Havahart trap. And this is a trap that is a wire cage with a trap door. And the way to bait it is to take an apple and put it in the far end of the cage and wire the apple to the cage; don’t just put it in there. But usually, I’ll take a hanger or a piece of picture-frame wire or something like that and I’ll thread it through the apple and wire it off so that it can’t bounce around.

    And if they’re in the attic, they’ll come looking for that food. They’ll get trapped in there. Then you can pick the whole cage up and take it far away from your house and then release them. And believe me, as soon as you lift the door up, they’re like out like a light.

    LESLIE: They’re gone.

    TOM: They just fly right out there and they’ll take off. They want nothing to do with you, so it’s completely safe.

    Now, in terms of those holes, you have to repair them. Now, you can put – if it’s a small hole, you can put steel wool in it or something like that. But if it’s a bigger hole, you really should simply rebuild it or repair it, whatever it takes. So if it’s wood or if it’s vinyl or if it’s metal soffit material, you really just need to completely rebuild that.

    And then, the other thing I’ll mention that seems to have been pretty effective over the years and that is if you were to put moth balls down your attic, that does seem to have a deterring effect on the squirrels, as well. So if you spread them …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. It will, though – that odor does seep into the house, so don’t go crazy with it.

    TOM: Yeah, right. You sprinkle them in there, yeah. Especially along the eaves.

    KATHY: Now, is there anything else I can put up there to keep more from coming in?

    TOM: Well, we want to identify the holes and get those fixed. It’s really an entry issue. You’ve got to basically close the door on them here. And so, if we can identify those holes and those entry points and seal them up, then you shouldn’t have a problem with squirrels. They don’t naturally live in the attic but they’re obviously finding a way into your house.

    If you’re not quite sure where they’re getting in, you obviously can’t get in there – up there – to kind of look that closely, then work from the street level, walking around the outside of the house and looking up. Try to get a pair of binoculars or borrow one and see if you can spot the holes where they’re getting in. But that’s what has to be closed up.

    KATHY: OK. Thank you so much. I’m so grateful.

    TOM: You’re very welcome.

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

    BRIAN: Hi. We have a house. It’s about a year-and-a-half old and it has a – in the upstairs, it has a game room/play room area, you know? And got a two-year-old and a six-year-old and so trying to think of – trying to build – yeah.

    LESLIE: And lots of stuff.

    TOM: Yeah.

    BRIAN: Lots of toys. So I’m trying to think of a seating area, bench, storage area. Suggestions? Ideas?

    LESLIE: I mean you’re on the right track. I’ve done a ton of makeovers on $100 Makeover with a similar situation, where small kids, lots of stuff, multi-function rooms. You want it to look good, you want it to be practical but you want to have a place for everything and everything in its place.

    And if you’re a handy guy, you can easily make a storage bench and it could be something as simple as a framed-out box with one of those slowly-closing hinged tops to protect the kiddies’ fingers, either painting it or wrapping it in fabric, padding the top and wrapping just the top, veneering the bottom. It depends on your skill level. And there are ways to even modify existing pieces that you might have.

    Maybe there is a bench or a piece of inexpensive furniture that you can find at one of those stores where you sort of put things together yourself. And you can add baskets underneath. It depends on what your skillset is and what kind of look you want for that space.

    BRIAN: I saw on some show leaving it open using 2x4s or 2x6s – or would you suggest enclosing it?

    LESLIE: I feel like leaving things open, only from my experience with my own son and people who I see how they live – if it’s closed up, it tends to be neater.

    BRIAN: Right.

    LESLIE: And you can frame something – build the box out of 2x4s, clad it with MDF, dress it up a little bit with 1×3, make it almost look like it’s paneled or something.

    BRIAN: Right.

    LESLIE: Give it some raised areas and recessed areas, if you even want to go that far. Up to you. You can add in a baseboard to just sort of dress up the bottom. Paint that. Everything looks beautiful in glossy white or glossy black or a great chocolate brown.

    And then on the top, same thing: MDF top. You want to wrap it with some batting. Put some foam, wrap that in batting, wrap it with fabric, staple to the underside. And the key is the hinge; you have to get that hinge that slowly, slowly, slowly goes down. Because the kids are always going to get their hands in everything.

    BRIAN: Now, we have a corner area, so should I just make it straight or should I make it like an L-shape or what?

    LESLIE: I think an L-shape is really practical. And what you can do is on the ends – on both ends or just one – you can sort of then build out an additional area that maybe has some open shelving on both ends, to put some books.

    BRIAN: Awesome. Looks like I’ve got a project to get started.

    TOM: Sounds like you do.

    LESLIE: It’s a good one.

    BRIAN: Alright. Well, I appreciate it.

    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, home improvement, décor, design, whatever question you’ve got going on at your money pit, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, you’ve probably already felt this in your wallet but the cost of electricity is skyrocketing. We’ll tell you five smart ways you can cut down on your electricity and hang on to those energy dollars, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    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. One lucky caller that we talk to this hour is going to get a guide to all of their home repair adventures. It’s a copy of the book that Tom and I wrote called My Home, My Money Pit. And in it, you can find everything from finding the right wall color, to how to clean your gutters, to choosing roofing materials. You name it, it’s in there. So give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    OK. Let’s talk about what every homeowner wants to know: how to save money on your money pit. One way is to reduce the amount of energy you use. Energy bills have been skyrocketing in the past five years with households now paying a record – a record – $1,400 on average for electricity. That’s crazy. And that’s a bump of $300 a year.

    But while these rates are going up and electricity is costing more, we’re also using more of it. So we need to use less and here are five easy ways that you can do just that.

    LESLIE: That’s right. First, you want to assess your home. Now, you can do this by going to EnergyStar.gov and using their home energy yardstick. You’d be surprised with all the details it provides and it might actually help you discover ways to use less energy, that you would have never thought of otherwise.

    Next step, you’ve got to seal your windows. Sealing with caulk, weatherstripping or spray foam, whatever it is, use something because it can make a huge difference.

    And finally, when possible, always check that you’re buying Energy Star products. Now, products ranging from light bulbs, even to major appliances, can carry the Energy Star labels. And that’s going to mean that you will get the most out of that appliance without wasting costly energy in the process.

    And be sure to check our website at MoneyPit.com for a host of energy-saving tips. If you start doing your research today, you can save a lot of money in this remaining winter season.

    TOM: Also, maintaining your heating equipment is really important. You want to check the air filter and service it because that can help it run really efficiently, which means it doesn’t have to run as long to heat your house.

    And whenever possible, use a programmable thermostat because that can also allow you to turn down the heat when you’re not at home.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Carol on the line from Oregon. How can we help you today?

    CAROL: Well, I’ve got a problem. I should know better but I have rented to people with – who brought in a puppy.

    TOM: OK. Oh, that’s terrible.

    CAROL: And now I’ve got to deal with lots of urine, fecal. It’s damage that’s probably been on there too long, too deep. Gone through the carpet to the pads of the subfloor. So, my question is: can the stain ever be removed? I’m thinking I should just take everything up. My question would be what to put down new. Replace the subfloors? Solution? People have said something about KILZ and something like Zenix (ph) or something like that.

    LESLIE: Well, I mean it really depends. If you even want to attempt salvaging the rug that’s there – generally, with a rental situation, you’re probably better off with a tile or a laminate floor just because of cleanability. And then let the folks bring in their own area rugs. But if you want to attempt to sort of get the stain away, get the odor away, there’s a product that I used when I was training our dog, who was untrainable for the first year. And it’s on a website called JustRite and it’s R-i-t-e.com. And it’s called 1-2-3 Odor Free.

    And it’s like a series of different products. One’s a stain remover, one’s an odor remover and it sort of neutralizes through enzymes. And there’s an injector that you use to get through the carpet and into the padding and into the subfloor. And I kid you not, it works. Because there was a spot at the top of the steps that Daisy just loved and no problems to this day.

    So, you might want to try that. However, if there is a lot of stuff to deal with, your best bet is probably to just pull everything off and you’re right about wanting to seal that subfloor. Because if you don’t put a primer – a good one – on top of it, whatever you put on top, get a humid day and you’re going to notice it.

    CAROL: Right.

    TOM: Yeah, so that’s why, Carol, what you want to do is use an oil-based primer like a KILZ or a B-I-N. There are a number of different primers out there but I would use the oil-based ones for a problem like this, because they’re going to do a better job of sealing in odor.

    CAROL: OK. And if I do decide to put down a rug – because this is a house I would like to sell future forward; it’s a nice house – is there a type of rug that can better be cleaned?

    LESLIE: OK, yeah. It is from Mohawk and it’s a carpet that they call SmartStrand. And it’s got built-in stain-and-soil resistance that’s never, never, never going to wear off or wash off or clean off. And it feels soft. And it’s environmentally friendly because it’s made in part with a recycled plastic.

    And I think it was last year at the Builders’ Show – Tom and I were at the event – and they were just launching this SmartStrand product. And they had taken carpeting and carpeted the pen of an elephant at the zoo and left it in there for a year and then took it off, cleaned it and brought a patch in and had half under the cover of glass and half out. And there was a little door that you could open up to the dirty side and you opened that up and of course, I didn’t smell just because I always do strange things like that. And it like reeked horribly. And the side that was cleaned was beautiful, clean, soft, smelled fantastic.

    So, I’m not really sure about the price point but it is an amazing product and available in a lot of different looks, different piles. So I would start with Mohawk, their SmartStrand.

    CAROL: OK. Thank you so much.

    LESLIE: Joe in Georgia is on the line with a cooling situation. Tell us what’s going on at your Georgia home.

    JOE: I purchased a 1,700-square-foot ranch.

    TOM: OK.

    JOE: And it has a 3-ton air conditioner now. The owners put on an additional sunroom about 220 square feet but really didn’t upgrade the air-conditioning unit.

    TOM: OK. Hmm. Yeah.

    JOE: So in the summer, when it comes time to air condition the whole house, that room never gets cool.

    TOM: I bet. Yeah, not surprising.

    JOE: It gets very warm out there.

    TOM: Yeah.

    JOE: There’s a lot of windows and our options are going to a bigger unit of 4½ tons to cool the whole house or some people have suggested to me that there is an individual unit that you can put out there with its own compressor.

    LESLIE: Joe, do you have an actual wall or is everything all glass?

    JOE: There’s a space on the bottom, under the window, and there’s a space above it. I’ve measured it and from what I can find online, I think the unit would just about fit on top of the window spot.

    TOM: Well, here’s what you would do, Joe. I would definitely recommend that you use a separate system for the sun room and here’s why. If you get a 4½-ton unit, you’re going to have to run that unit all the time, whether you need the extra cooling power or not, and that’s going to really run up your electrical cost.

    A 3-ton unit rule of thumb – and you’re in Georgia, so I would be on the extreme of this – is you would figure 600 to 800 square feet per ton. You’re in Georgia, so I would figure 600. That’s only 1,800 square feet. And believe me, there’s a lot of other things that calculate into this: how much insulation you have, how many windows you have facing south and so on.

    JOE: OK.

    TOM: So your system is right where it should be, at 3 tons.

    JOE: OK.

    TOM: If you were to make that bigger, it would be wasteful for the rest of the house. I would look at a product called a Mitsubishi Mr. Slim. This is a split ductless system, so there’s no ducts to install. You put the compressor outside, the refrigerant lines get run to the inside. They hook up with an air handler that essentially hangs or is mounted right to the wall. I would put it on the exterior wall of your house facing into the sunroom.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And they’re like, what, 18 inches by – no, 12 inches by 30 inches?

    JOE: OK. OK.

    LESLIE: They’re not gigantic.

    TOM: I had to turn around and look at the one that’s hanging from my studio. That’s how quiet it is. Yeah, it’s probably 16 inches tall by maybe 2½ – yeah, 2½-foot wide.

    LESLIE: Two or three feet.

    TOM: And they’re great. They’re real efficient and …

    LESLIE: Super-quiet.

    TOM: You can get them in just the air-conditioning mode or you can get one in air conditioning and a heat pump. In case you want to use that space in the wintertime, you could just switch it into the heat mode.

    LESLIE: And they heat super-fast.

    JOE: That might be a good idea, because it does get – it does stay cooler and I guess that must be because of the large, expansive windows that are in that one room.

    TOM: Absolutely. Yep.

    JOE: So it probably stays cooler, so we do find that we don’t even use that space once it starts to drop. But the temperatures don’t get extremely cold in Savannah here but still …

    LESLIE: But it gets chilly.

    TOM: And it’s perfect for that, because it’ll really just sort of take the edge off. Go to the Mitsubishi Electric website and check out Mr. Slim.

    JOE: OK.

    TOM: That’s the product. It’s a good product; it works well. And I think it’s the perfect solution for your sunroom in Georgia.

    JOE: I’d been leaning towards what you just said. I actually looked at another brand but if the Mitsubishi is good, I’ll pull that up online and kind of look into that one, also.

    LESLIE: It’s the one that Tom and I both have personally in our homes and we’ve got one in the studio. And it just worked out that way, not for any reason sponsorship-wise or anything. And we both love them.

    JOE: OK. Alright. Well, I’m going to do my homework on it and I appreciate all your help.

    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Give us a call right now if you’re thinking about perhaps making an energy-saving home improvement. We would love to help you get it done.

    LESLIE: Well, stick around because Tom and I are going to tell you about a web community that we’ve just joined that allows you to do just that, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Skil. And now you can easily cut through the most difficult projects with ease, with a Power Cutter from Skil. With powerful, lithium-ion technology and an auto-sharp blade system, Skil’s lightweight Power Cutter will soon become your favorite tool, too. The Skil Power Cutter. It cuts just about anything.

    TOM: Where home solutions live, 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. And if you’re listening to us right now, chances are you are an avid do-it-yourselfer. And as Tom and I know well, DIYers love to talk about their projects.

    TOM: Yes. More specifically, we love to brag about our projects. And now there’s a great website that you can use to do just that. In fact, you can chat, you can share, you can ask questions about any project. It’s called Hometalk.com and here to tell us all about Hometalk is its community manager, Miriam Illions.

    Hi, Miriam.

    MIRIAM: Hi.

    TOM: You guys have done a phenomenal job creating a community where we can all brag about our projects, haven’t you?

    MIRIAM: Well, I like to think so. Thank you so much. We are excited to have this platform where people can just talk about their home improvement projects, share resources, discuss what they’ve done, get advice on what they’re looking for and really make better decisions when it comes to home improvement.

    LESLIE: That’s interesting. Now, are there certain projects that tend to sort of be more popular or people just talking about everything?

    MIRIAM: I would say people are really talking about everything. The popular thing is that when people are doing a project, there are always questions, as I’m sure you guys know. And there are so many variables to choose from, if you’re looking to install flooring, for example.

    So, the best way to make an educated decision is to really hear from people who have made these decisions before and hear the pros and cons based on their experience. So that’s what Hometalk is.

    TOM: And what’s cool is it’s a pretty big community. So we’ve always chatted with our neighbors and friends about the projects that we’ve thought about doing for ourselves and we’ve got advice from those folks. But this is cool because you’re really opening yourself up to a much bigger community of electronic neighbors and friends, so to speak. Just like you have Facebook friends, you can have friends that you connect with on Hometalk and you can really seek a lot of good opinions and good experiences about the project you’re tackling.

    And like you say, Miriam, there’s a lot of white noise out there; sometimes it’s hard to cut through and make the best decision. But let’s say you’re trying to decide between bamboo and oak flooring, you could post that question and probably get a pretty healthy set of responses that might help you make the decision.

    MIRIAM: Exactly. The idea is to hear from people that they’ve got that kind of flooring and how is it working for them? Possibly see pictures of what it looks like. Hear the pros and the cons and know what you’re getting into, based on what they’re telling you.

    LESLIE: And Miriam, when you want to seek out information, you have to join Hometalk? How do you all get started when you’re looking to be part of the community?

    MIRIAM: OK. So it’s actually really easy. The easiest way is to – first of all, you go to Hometalk.com, of course. You can connect instantly through Facebook if you’re on Facebook. And you can right ahead start Hometalking, either by searching for information – so if you’re looking for something specific, you can search and see what people have talked about around that topic. And then you can post a question.

    So, for example – I’m just looking on here right now, actually. We have a member; her name is Natalie. She’s out of New York. She did just that. She posted: “I have an old staircase in my home and to dress it up, I’m thinking of tiling the risers since they don’t get stepped on.” And she wants to know what’s the best way to prepare them to hold the tile.

    From there, she gets about 10 different responses of people offering her suggestions, telling her why that might not be a good idea but if she’s going to do it, what the best way is to do it and of course, offering other suggestions and lots of pictures, too.

    TOM: What a great resource.

    We’re talking to Miriam Illions. She’s the community manager for a new website called Hometalk.com, where you can chat, share and ask questions about any home improvement project.

    Miriam, I want to ask you about contractors. I noticed on the site that a lot of folks are very happy to recommend experiences they’ve had with specific contractors. Are contractors a big part of the Hometalk community?

    MIRIAM: Definitely. Because contractors, those are the guys that have a lot of the answers. They are the professionals. They’re experienced and they know a lot; they’re the ones offering the solutions a lot of the time.

    So, the way it works is contractors, they’re Hometalkers just like the rest of us; they create their profiles and they’re posting pictures of their work. They’re answering questions. And the wonderful thing is is that there you have a guy in Atlanta that’s offering a solution to someone in New Jersey, because it’s a really friendly community of people who truly help each other and enjoy providing solutions for each other.

    TOM: Terrific. Now one more thing before we let you go. I notice you also have contests. In fact, we, of course, are proud Hometalk panelists. And there was a contest that just ran over the holiday where we asked the Hometalk community members to post their New Year’s resolutions for their home. And man, what a response we got. So I guess contests are a really fun part of this – of the community, as well.

    MIRIAM: Well, definitely. We have a weekly Hometalk giveaway where we say every week we give you – we give away something to make your home a little bit better. So, that’s a big part of it. And then we’ve got wonderful members like yourself that have fun contests for Hometalkers.

    And it’s amazing to see, you know, just from seeing the response that the contest got, everyone has a resolution because everyone’s looking to do something. And just browsing through the different answers that people posted, as a homeowner, it makes you feel like you’re part of a community of people. You get to see, on the inside, everyone deals with issues; everyone has their wants and their needs. And it’s a very nice feeling to be in this kind of community together with other people who are all trying to make better decisions for their homes.

    TOM: Great point. Miriam Illions, Community Manager for Hometalk.com, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. And I’m sure many of our listeners will be stopping by Hometalk very soon.

    MIRIAM: Thank you for having me.

    LESLIE: Well, with the school year back on your way, now is the perfect time to reimagine your home-office space to make it work for both you and your kids. And maybe you’ll actually see a boost in their grades. We’ll tell you how, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by ODL’s Add-On Blinds. Enclosed behind tempered glass, they eliminate the need for dusting and exposed cords, both problems with traditional blinds. Plus, they easily install over your existing entry glass. Visit www.ODL.com to learn more.

    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: The number to call is 888-MONEY-PIT. And if you do that, you might just get our advice and a chance to win our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure, a complete guide to all things home related. Going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Well, if your family’s squad of scholars is distracted and disorganized during evening homework sessions, you can make a few changes to create an organized office space that will encourage academic success and of course, family harmony.

    First off, you’ve got to define the space. Whether you’re working with an entire room or just a fraction of one, you need to establish the borders of a home office for kids to accommodate the physical needs, as well as the mutual respect for its purpose.

    TOM: That’s right. And next, create a family-friendly office with storage. Make sure everyone has their own bit of storage space within that shared homework zone. One easy way to do that is to create colorful bins, old school-style lockers or even a cleverly-divided cabinet so everybody has space for their stuff. That will stop family fights, too.

    LESLIE: Oh, completely. And you’ve got to choose flexible furnishings, you know. You’re going to get more out of a small space with multi-purpose, movable furnishing elements: rolling chairs and storage carts, even fold-out work surfaces are just a few of the possibilities.

    TOM: And lastly, you need to have good lighting. So, power up, people. Make sure your homework office space is well-lit, well-ventilated and wisely networked for easy, efficient use. If you create a great, functional space like that, your kids will enjoy spending time in it and the grades perhaps will see a little boost as a result.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. We want to boost your home improvement results. Pick up the phone and call us right now. We’ll help you get the project done. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT. That’s 888-666-3974.

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

    PETE: Well, I’ve got lime deposits in my toilets and I’ve got probably five toilets in my house that I’d like to get them out of it. They’re around the upper part of the rim where the water comes out and then down in the bowl.

    TOM: OK.

    PETE: And I’ve tried LIME-A-WAY and I tried a vinegar soak. Maybe I just didn’t do it long enough but I’d like to find a way to get those lime deposits out of there and get my toilets looking nice.

    TOM: Have you tried CLR?

    PETE: Yes, I have.

    TOM: You have tried CLR and CLR didn’t do it either?

    PETE: Didn’t do it, no.

    TOM: Well, Pete, if the commercial cleaners like CLR and LIME-A-WAY are not working, there’s a couple other things that you can try but you have to be very careful. One of them is to use something that’s abrasive, like pumice or like a rubbing compound. And you can try to abrade away the deposit.

    Theoretically, these abrasives are softer than the porcelain but you have to do it very carefully; you don’t want to rough the surface of the porcelain. Because if you do, it’ll get dirtier that much quicker the next time around.

    Some folks also use muriatic acid. I don’t like to recommend that because it’s pretty harsh stuff and you’ve got to be super, super careful when you use it.

    PETE: Yeah.

    TOM: But it is a possibility, as well.

    And then, the other thing that you can try is you did use vinegar but I don’t know if you mixed it with baking soda.

    LESLIE: Yeah, because that helps.

    TOM: And that helps, as well. You kind of make it into a paste and let it stand for a while and then you rinse it.

    PETE: OK.

    TOM: So, there’s a couple of additional things that you can try.

    I also found a great article online. Whenever you find an article from a university or an extension service, it’s usually pretty well-researched. And if you just Google “removing mineral deposits and North Carolina Cooperative,” you’ll find it. And it’s an extensive article that’s a little old but has a lot of great suggestions in it. And specifically has solutions for the different types of deposits that you get on these fixtures, whether it’s rust, iron, copper, what kinds of stain it is and so on.

    PETE: That sounds great. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Susan in New York, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    SUSAN: I don’t know if you can mention a brand name. So we got this basement waterproofing-system thing installed a couple years ago.

    TOM: OK.

    SUSAN: And it’s supposed to help your house. In fact, it’s made our house settle, because they jack-hammered around the inside walls downstairs and dug up outside. And it’s like my house is settling worse than it was. Is there any way to slow it down?

    TOM: Well, first of all, most of the time, those types of waterproofing systems are absolutely and completely unnecessary. I know that they’re typically sold with a lot of pressure and a lot of promises and had we talked to you a couple of years ago, we’d have told you absolutely to not do it.

    Now that you have done it, I don’t think that anything that they did would make it worse. That said, though, if you still are continuing to get a lot of water that collects around the foundation, that water, although it may be draining down into this drain-tile system on both sides of the foundation, that actually could be loosening up some of the soil and causing an excessive settlement.

    Think about it: when you walk across the yard when it’s dry, you walk on top; when it’s wet, you sink in. Your house does the same thing and these subsurface drainage systems, all they do is they let the water run down along the foundation, collect it and then pump it out.

    What we generally advise is that you take the steps to improve the drainage condition at the foundation perimeter, so that you slope the soil away from the house, you clean the downspouts, you extend them out away, so that water never, ever gets a chance to collect at the foundation perimeter. It stays away from the house; it never gets anywhere near the basement. And that makes the basement a lot more stable, as well as drier.

    SUSAN: Alrighty. Thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome. 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. Up next, making the most out of your fireplace. Aside from looking pretty, can it actually supply extra heat? We’ll tell you, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your tool box, 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: And there is no need to wait for our radio show to get your question answered. If you become a member of The Money Pit community, you will be able to post your question 24-7 and either Leslie, myself or one of your fellow community members will answer it. Join now at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Here’s post from Ray who wrote: “I have a standard, wood-burning fireplace with no perks like a blower system. It’s not really meant to heat the house but I would like to have it supply a little supplemental heat. Is there some kind of system that I could get to make it more efficient and possibly add some heat to the house?”

    TOM: Well, there is. You can get a fireplace insert, Ray. The most popular one is called Heatilator. They’ve been around for many, many years. They’re specifically designed to be installed inside an existing masonry fireplace and they allow you to have sort of a more efficient, clean-burning fireplace. They can be either wood, they can be gas, they could be pellet, they could even be made to work with coal.

    It’s not inexpensive but it will make it a much more efficient and effective fireplace. So if you’re using it all the time, you might want to get some prices and find out what it costs to have that done in your particular situation. I’m sure you can find a local dealer that installs them. They have to be measured, they have to be sized properly. If you’d like to see them online, the Heatilator website is just that: it’s Heatilator.com – H-e-a-t-i-l-a-t-o-r.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now I’ve got a post from Edward who wrote: “As it starts to get cold outside, the foyer and kitchen floor of my house are freezing. I’ve got the heat running at 70 degrees but the floor stays cold. Is it worthwhile to insulate the ceiling joists of my basement?”

    I would say yes.

    TOM: Well, definitely. I mean if your basement’s not heated, then the heat would be contained inside the finished space of the house, which is the first floor. So, certainly, there’s no reason you can’t insulate those – the ceiling joists – in the basement and make the floors a lot toastier up top.

    But even if later on you decide to heat the basement, well, the energy will just stay there; it won’t go up through the floor. So I think that’s a great idea.

    LESLIE: And it’ll definitely notice a nice difference on those floors, just because you’re adding that barrier so that cold air isn’t getting up. And you can always consider an area rug in those spaces, because that’ll definitely help keep your tootsies cozy.

    TOM: Well, would you like to transform your house to keep up with the latest trends? You can do that by simply adding a new coat of paint. Leslie is here in today’s edition of her Last Word, with a report on the trendy wall colors you can expect to see in 2012.

    LESLIE: That’s right. If you want to keep your interior color up with the trends, look toward natural colors drawn from the American landscape. And we’re not talking about all beige here. You want to think of the blue of an ocean, the green of a forest and of course, the purple mountains’ majesty.

    Now, a dash …

    TOM: I’ve heard that before. Isn’t that in a song or something?

    LESLIE: Of course it is. And that’s truly what the inspiration is: it’s Americana but really all about the essence of America and the natural, seemingly beautiful landscape that we call our country. So you really want to look at that.

    Now, a dash of purple, it can really punch up any room and you’re also going to see a ton of patterns. Now, we’re talking about houndstooth, even lacy designs. And of course, the classic combo of black and white is really gaining popularity again. And you can also always just add a pop of black in any room, whether it’s a piece of furniture or upholstery. It really does make a big difference and it can freshen the interior of any home, whether you’ve got a classic Colonial or even a modern apartment.

    Now, you can read more about decorating trends for this new year on our website. Just go to MoneyPit.com and search “2012 paint color trends” and you will truly be inspired.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. 888-666-3974 is the number. Call us any time of the day or night and if we are not in the studio, we will call you back the next time we are.

    Coming up next week on the program, would you like to add brightness and atmosphere to your home without breaking the bank? You can learn the latest choices in energy-efficient lighting, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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

    END HOUR 2 TEXT

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

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