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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: Happy Holidays, everybody. It is the season. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and that means that we’re entering that time of year when scores of houseguests love to stop by. But the problem is that some never leave. So if you’ve got those kinds of family and friends, well, we’re going to give you some tips this hour to help you create some cozy guest spaces or at least they’ll be comfortable for the time they decide to stay with you.

    LESLIE: That’s right. And when those guests do start to arrive, do you have enough parking or are they going to have to risk it on the street? Well, we’re going to tell you one easy way to spruce up your driveway or actually even make it bigger, just in time for those big guest arrivals.

    TOM: And speaking of arrivals, can you imagine what might happen if the guests show up and you lose power? That would not be pleasant. Now, most folks would turn to a portable generator if that happens and if you happen to have one.

    We’ve got a better idea. It’s called an automatic backup standby generator. It’s a permanent solution and we’re going to tell you how to get one, how to get it installed and how to make it work for you, in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And one lucky caller this hour is going to get a great way to save water during this busy holiday season and beyond. It’s a Dual-Flush Converter from HydroRight. And it only takes about five minutes to install and it can save you 70 percent of the water that you use in your toilet. And it’s worth 25 bucks.

    TOM: So give us a call right now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Susan in Maryland is calling in. She’s wanting to know when a house has outlived its usefulness. I love how this question is worded. What can we do for you, Susan?

    SUSAN: I discovered I had termites out in my sunroom.

    TOM: Wow.

    SUSAN: They ate everything in front of my swimming pool and it’s just – I don’t know. My children want me to buy a new house and I don’t want to.

    TOM: You want to give the house up to the termites?

    SUSAN: Not really, because everything is all paid for.

    TOM: Yeah. Listen, there’s a solution, OK? Susan, the best way to treat termites is to use a product called Termidor – T-e-r-m-i-d-o-r. Now, it’s professionally applied. You have to have a pest-control firm do this for you.

    But the way it works is they will apply this to the area in and around your house. Not inside the house but really, the perimeter. And the termites don’t live up on the ground, on the surface; they live down deep in the soil. So as they go back and forth to the soil, to their nest, they pass through this termiticide, it’s called. And they get it on their bodies and they take it back to the nest and they pass it from insect to insect and it’s pretty much germ warfare for termites. That is the end of the colony. When they pass it to each other, it totally wipes them out.

    And the stuff can last like 10 years and it’s safe. And that’s the way I treated termites when I had them in my house and it’s worked very well for me. And I think it’ll work well for you, too.

    SUSAN: OK. Thank you.

    TOM: Alright. You don’t have to give up the house to the termites now. Alright, you can stay.

    SUSAN: I’ll be saving a small fortune. Thank you. Bye.

    TOM: Alright, Susan. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Hey, speaking of termites, Leslie, I want to relate a story to you about …

    LESLIE: Oh, God, a termite from my house called you and it’s letting me know what’s in there?

    TOM: Well actually about – my mom has a house – my mom and dad have a house down in Florida.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, which – termites are very common down there.

    TOM: Termites are very common down there. And so they had a termite contract that they kind of let drop for a while and they weren’t really happy with the company and the service. So they went to another guy and he was good for a while, then he sort of faded out. All the contractors come and they go and so she wanted to go back to the original guy.

    So, the original guy says, “Well, you’ve got to pay for the two years that you didn’t have the contract,” which I thought was a grab – a cash grab.

    LESLIE: Really?

    TOM: And then I started thinking about it. I said, “You know what, Mom? You don’t really need this termite service contract, because you already had the house treated. We know the treatment’s going to last for a good 10 years.” Plus, when I thought about it, you know how those houses are built in this particular development? Concrete slab, concrete-block walls. The only thing that’s wood in the house is the truss roof.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. How in …

    TOM: For the termites to get up there, they’ve got to really be ambitious.

    LESLIE: They’ve really got to be ambitious.

    TOM: And you’ve got to have a leak that’s going on for a long period of time. So you’ve got an entire community down there of houses, in this particular case, that are really a very, very, very low risk of termites, for which those people are paying hundreds of dollars a year for the privilege of having a termite service contract.

    LESLIE: Well and it’s interesting …

    TOM: And you know why? Because most of them come from the North, where they’re used to doing that but with Florida, in this kind of construction, they don’t have to do it.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s amazing.

    TOM: And the contract didn’t cover drywood termites, which are the only kind that can fly up there and eat by themselves. They covered subterraneans. So you’ve really got to look at these agreements for pest-control operators and not just kind of sign on the dotted line and write a check, because sometimes they don’t make sense.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s kind of a shysty (ph) business, because you’re dealing with people who are so used to having a contract like this, of a certain age. You know, it’s like you feel like you’re falling prey to.

    Now, it’s interesting that they wanted to back-charge your parents, because we lapsed on our termite service for a year and I called our exterminator. We were having earwigs just because the soil was too moist from the sprinkler system and they were getting in the house. And the guy came and he said, “You didn’t pay last year for the termite contract.” I said, “I just – I completely didn’t think about it.” And he was like, “Don’t worry. We’ll re-sign you up; you don’t have to pay for it.” They were really nice about it.

    TOM: And that was the right way to handle it.

    LESLIE: Yeah, totally.

    TOM: Yeah. So these folks went for the cash grab in my parents’ case and you know what? Now they didn’t get the service contract and I hope that the word is spreading throughout the development that probably not necessary whatsoever.

    LESLIE: Well, young Tom, you are going to be getting everyone’s contracts for review, from that building, I am sure.

    TOM: There you go.

    LESLIE: Your mom’s going to be like, “My son, he knows about this stuff. Send it to me; I’ll have him read it.”

    TOM: Have him review it. That’s right.

    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 at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, with the frigid weather on the way, your driveway is about to take a beating. We’re going to have tips to help you create a new driveway or maintain the one you have, after this.

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

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Icynene. If you’re building, remodeling or reinsulating, demand Icynene spray-foam insulation. Icynene fills the spaces other insulations miss, for up to 50-percent energy savings. Learn more and find a dealer at Icynene.com. I-c-y-n-e-n-e.com.

    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 is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to take home a dual-flush converter from HydroRight. It’s going to go out to one caller that reaches us with their home improvement question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Now, this is a device that was invented by a fourth-generation plumber. And what it does is convert your toilet into a dual-flush system without you having to remove the tank. You will see some serious water savings. If you want to win it, pick up the phone and call us now with your question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, if you’ve got some guests coming for the holidays, your driveway might be more important than ever and you probably need the space for parking or maybe you’d love to shoot some hoops with the kids over the break. Now, the experts at QUIKRETE have some tips on how to make sure your driveway does stay in shape for the season.

    First, if you have any oil or gas spills, you want to make sure you clean them up immediately to avoid discoloring the concrete. And if that does happen, the next step is a pressure washer. But you want to be careful not to overdo it because too much pressure can actually damage the driveway.

    Also important this time of year to watch out for the deicing chemicals; they can eat away at the concrete. Products that contain ammonium nitrates and ammonium sulfates are harmful because they actually chew away at that concrete surface. What you want to look for is calcium chloride; that will do less damage. But even calcium chloride can harm vegetation and corrode metal. Your best bet, of course, is to just use sand and try to not let the ice and snow build up as much as possible.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? With the cooler temperatures, you might be thinking that this really isn’t the right time of year to lay a new concrete driveway or even expand the one you have. But if you use the right materials, it can be done this time of year and even any time of year.

    QUIKRETE 5000 Concrete Mix is a commercial-grade blend of stone or gravel, sand and cement and it’s especially designed for high strength. It sets quickly, so it’s ideal for cold-weather projects. And you can also mix it by hand, which makes it a great option for do-it-yourselfers.

    Check out their website. It’s QUIKRETE.com and that’s Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E.com. And they’re going to have step-by-step instructions on using the QUIKRETE 5000 to expand or even create a new driveway, just in time for the holiday season.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. If you’ve got a holiday fix-up on your to-do list, call us right now and we will do it together.

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

    DAVID: Yes, ma’am. I was wondering, I’m fixing to install a wood-and-coal heat in my home: a stove. And the options that I have is either build a flue outside of the home and go that way or the triple-wall pipe that goes through the roof and out the roof.

    And I was wanting to know, are they safe and how long would they last? It’s triple-wall, stainless-steel pipe.

    TOM: Yeah and that’s the standard way to vent a – any type of a fireplace or a wood stove that goes through a building today. And yes, they are safe as long as the installation is put in in accordance with the National Fire Protection Association guidelines. So you have to be very careful about the install. But if it’s done correctly, it’s completely safe and it’s the way to go.

    DAVID: So you just don’t run the pipe through your ceiling, into the attic and through the roof?

    TOM: You do it in accordance to those guidelines. It’s not a do-it-yourself project, if you’re just getting started with this.

    DAVID: Oh.

    TOM: You need to make sure you follow the directions. There’s specific instructions on how the pipe goes together and how much distance it has to have between itself and anything that can burn and so on. So, it’s not a starter project, David, but it is definitely the right way to go and it’s what’s very standard now in the industry.

    DAVID: Oh, OK. Well, that was what I was worried about. I just didn’t want to burn myself out.

    TOM: And we don’t want that to happen, either. That’s why we want you to get a pro to help you with that part of the job.

    David, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Maria in Iowa needs some help with a wallpaper project. Tell us about it.

    MARIA: Well, we’ve been in this house for about 3 years and the wallpaper has been up probably a total of 10 if not maybe more in the kitchen, in the bathroom.

    TOM: OK.

    MARIA: And it’s on plaster walls. So how would I remove that?

    LESLIE: Hmm. And …

    MARIA: They’re in the plaster.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, what you’re going to want to do is you’re going to have to score it, first of all. And there’s a tool called a PaperTiger that does that. You run it over the wall; put some very small holes in it. Then on top of that, you can use a wallpaper remover or you could use fabric softener. Fabric softener …

    LESLIE: Fabric softener is surprisingly effective.

    TOM: At breaking down the glues.

    MARIA: Really? You use it full-strength or mixed with water?

    LESLIE: The full-strength fabric softener. You sort of roll it on the wall with a paint roller and then you let it sit. I’m not sure for how long but you want to let it sit there and kind of saturate the wall. And that’s why the scoring is so important, because if it’s a vinyl wallpaper, it needs to get underneath that vinyl and get to the adhesive. And even if it’s paper, it’ll sort of just loosen up what’s there and then get to the adhesive. And then you’d be surprised at how easily it peels off the wall.

    TOM: And the best part is your room smells lemony-fresh when you’re done.

    MARIA: That’s great.

    TOM: Maria, if you still have a problem getting it off, the final step is to rent a wallpaper steamer, which is a hand tool that’s got a plate on it that’s like, I don’t know, about 12×18. Then you hold it up against the wall and it shoots high-temperature steam in there and that will also loosen the paper.

    Look, there’s nothing easy about removing wallpaper; it’s a lot of work. Certainly a lot easier to put on than it is to take off but it’s worth it if you want to change the look of your room.

    MARIA: Yes. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Jeff in South Carolina is dealing with some squeaky floors. Tell us about it.

    JEFF: This house, I had built four years ago. It has white oak, hardwood floors and on two outside walls, they’ve started to creak a little bit. It’s not the floor structure, which is Trus Joist high beams with OSB subflooring.

    And I’m not sure if the subcontractor who put the floor put down the rosin paper or not. I wasn’t there when they did that. So, this problem has really been ongoing, not just developed lately.

    TOM: Alright. Well, listen, wood floors that are creaking in a four-year-old house is not the least bit unusual. Now, are these finished floors like solid hardwood or is it plywood that’s under carpet or something of that nature?

    JEFF: Oh, no, no, no. This is a white oak: Grade A, white oak, tongue-and-groove, yeah.

    TOM: A white oak, OK. OK. So you’re going to have a fair amount of movement. What happens is, Jeff, you’re going to get some shrinkage when it first goes down, you’re going to get some movement. The nails that are holding that down to the floor structure are going to loosen.

    You get two kinds of squeaks: you get a squeak where the tongue and the groove move together and rub together and cause friction and you get a squeak when the nail sort of moves in and out of the wood.

    JEFF: I see.

    TOM: Now, the only way to fix this is to secure the white-oak boards better down to the subfloor and hopefully the floor joist below. The way …

    JEFF: So, basically, I have to face-nail them?

    TOM: No, well, you can face-nail them or you could screw them with trim screws and you could plug them.

    So, a trim screw would be a better option, because it’s a really tiny screw and it’s more firm and once you put it in, it doesn’t pull out.

    LESLIE: It’d be more permanent.

    TOM: If it’s kind of just one minor area, you can drive a finish nail. You’d have to predrill this but you can drive a finish nail – like a number 10 or 12 or even bigger – on a slight angle and make sure you go down through the oak floor and into the floor joist below and that will tighten that up.

    But the best thing to do is to use screws and if you can’t get trim screws, you can use regular screws. You’re just going to have to counterbore it and plug it. So, it’s a bit of a wood-finishing project but I would tackle the noisiest, loosest areas first, secure those down and then move from there. But it’s going to be sort of ongoing. When you have a wood floor like that, it’s not unusual for it to squeak and those squeaks rarely mean that anything serious is happening structurally.

    JEFF: So, I can either tackle the project or live with the squeak.

    TOM: Pretty much. Yep. You can consider it charm.

    JEFF: Well, folks, thank you so much.

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

    And if Jeff has teenagers, that can come in very handy when they sneak home late at night.

    LESLIE: Veerd (sp) in Delaware, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    VEERD (sp): I have a mold that builds up between the shower doors, which are aluminum, to the fiberglass that the shower is made of. Right in the connection between the door and the shower and the fiberglass, there is a mold that – I see it but nothing cleans it.

    TOM: What have you tried? Have you tried bleach – straight bleach?

    VEERD (sp): Yes, I’ve tried bleach. I tried OxiClean, I tried white vinegar, I tried – you name it.

    LESLIE: Now, are you seeing it on the caulking that’s sort of the connector between the two or is there no caulk in there and it’s just sort of built up?

    VEERD (sp): Yes, yes. It’s like on the caulking.

    TOM: Ah, OK.


    TOM: Well, then, now we know why it’s happening.

    LESLIE: Yeah, because once it sort of super-saturates the caulk that’s there, there’s really no cleaning it. The best bet is to remove the existing caulk and you can do that with a product that’s called a caulk softener. And you can get it at the home centers and you apply it and then it sort of peels right out; you just pull it right out.

    And then, with that open space there, clean very well with bleach, bleach-and-water. Let it dry. Really dry it out. And then, go ahead and recaulk the surface there – that sort of space between the shower door and the tub top – and that will do a great job of really giving you a fresh surface. You have cleaned it all out. And make sure when you buy the new caulk that you get one that has an antimicrobial additive, like Microban, so that it won’t grow mold.

    VEERD (sp): OK. Thank you.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, as the temperatures drop and your holiday guests start to arrive, this is not, I repeat, not the time of year to lose your power. We are going to tell you about a permanent solution to power your home when the lights go out, after this.

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you in part by Arrow Fastener Company, the leader in professional fastening products since 1929. The makers of the iconic T50 Staple Gun, the world’s bestselling staple gun, Arrow Fastener has the right tool for every application. Explore Arrow’s latest product innovations at ArrowFastener.com.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bostitch. Professional-quality hand tools. Pneumatic and cordless nailers and staplers.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And losing power for days, weeks or even longer can be very costly, it can be inconvenient and it can be downright dangerous. The best protection for homeowners against these problems, though, is a standby generator.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? The type of standby generator that’s going to offer you the most peace of mind is an automatic standby generator. And you won’t even have to think or even worry about a power outage anymore. So here to tell us more is Jake Thomas from Generac.

    Welcome, Jake.

    JAKE: Hey, Leslie and Tom. Thanks for having us on.

    TOM: Well, it’s our pleasure. And before we get going, I’ve got to tell you, we have a Generac standby generator both at my home and also at the studio. And it has saved us numerous times. It’s even kept this program on the air – the one at the studio – because it came on within, I think, 15 or 20 seconds of losing power. So, it’s been an invaluable addition and from what I’ve seen, the products that you guys are making just keep getting better and they’re even more affordable than ever before.

    JAKE: Absolutely. You know, our number-one priority is keeping you guys on the air but all joking aside, absolutely.

    The standby generators that are on the market, that we manufacture today, are very, very affordable. A lot of people still consider the only solution for their backup power needs to be a portable and they think that automatic standby power is very expensive, which just isn’t the case. There’s a generator for every budget and a load scenario for every budget, as well. So we can fit exactly what the people need or what they want to do for their home.

    LESLIE: Now, when you say “load scenario,” you mean with an automatic standby generator, you can size it to, say, either do every single thing plugged in in the entire house or get one that’s sized just to do the essentials?

    JAKE: Yes. Actually, you can do even more than that. The way that we like to look at it is there are three main scenarios. Your first scenario is essential circuits. That’s where you are doing what – exactly what you said: you’re sizing a generator to back up specific loads. And we’ve got prewired, easy-install transfer switches that have all the wiring included, that have a certain number of circuit breakers built into an existing panel. So all you have to do is hook it up and hook up your existing wires to these circuits and away you go. It’s backing up just the essential circuits that they have selected.

    Now, on the other hand, you did mention the whole-house coverage, which is absolutely an option. You can get a whole-house backup generator. Most times, most houses would be taken care of with a 20kW air-cooled unit and a 200-amp service-rated switch and away you go; everything in the panel is backed up.

    But in some situations, if somebody has a desire to back up everything but it would take them into a liquid-cool product, which is probably about two or three times more expensive than the air-cooled product, they can go with a managed solution, which will actually intelligently manage the larger loads to make sure that they’ve got power to all the circuits that they want but intelligently shut off the ones that they don’t need at certain times.

    TOM: So if you absolutely, positively can never, ever be without power, that’s the kind of option you might go for.

    JAKE: Correct. It’s a way to make whole-house power more affordable through a managed solution.

    LESLIE: And with the automatic standby, I mean I think everybody really just thinks, when they think of a generator, hauling it out – one that’s gas-powered – firing it up, plugging things in. But with the automatic standby, it’s just hardwired in and when your power goes out, what happens? The switch flips, it comes on? How does it know?

    JAKE: Well, the generator is always watching your home’s power. And the incoming power, as soon as it goes away, the generator sees that. It’s going to wait for 10 to 15 seconds to make sure that the power is going to stay gone, so it’s not just a momentary blip. And then it’s going to fire itself up, warm itself up, warm the engine up for 10 seconds and then automatically transfer over to automatic backup power. So the generator is then operating off of the natural gas or LP fuel source for the home and they’re absolutely covered.

    TOM: And that’s, I think, a good point, that you’re not talking about gasoline here. We’re talking about – because people forget, Jake, that when the power goes out in the neighborhood, the gas pumps don’t work either. So you can’t get gasoline in a power outage half the time. So what we’re talking about here is either propane or natural gas. So, essentially, it’s continuously connected to a fuel supply and that is what really makes it so convenient.

    JAKE: Absolutely. There’s nothing worse than having your portable run out in the middle of an outage when you really need it and then hopefully trying to find a flashlight, driving to a gas station which you hope has power to get more fuel. And instead, you could be just sitting in your house with the TV on, eating some popcorn.

    TOM: Well, that sounds pretty good; that’s the place I want to be when the storm hits.

    Jake Thomas from Generac, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. Now, on your website at Generac.com, you have, obviously, all your generators. Is there also a sizing tool there where we can get a sense as to what size generator we might need for our homes?

    JAKE: Oh, absolutely. We always recommend that if somebody is seriously interested in it, they probably should get an electrician out to the house.

    But this sizing tool that we have on our website, you can plug in the zip code of where you are, because that will take the general temperature or air-conditioning size into account, and you just go through and select what loads you want to have powered during an outage. And it’ll pick the right one for you, so you can get an idea of what size you need and then about how much it would cost.

    TOM: Generac Standby Generators. Great product, great company. Check them out at Generac.com. That’s spelled G-e-n-e-r-a-c.com. Or call them at 888-GENERAC.

    Thanks, Jake.

    JAKE: Thanks, Tom. Thanks, Leslie.

    LESLIE: Well, are you feeling the pressure knowing you – just knowing that your home is going to be filled with overnight guests this holiday season that may be staying longer than you expect? Well, don’t sweat it. We are going to give you ways to create welcoming spaces for your guests so that they’ll want to stick around, after this.

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    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: Pick up the phone and give us a call right now with your home improvement question. Perhaps it’s a holiday fix-up question. If you do, one caller is going to walk away this hour with the HydroRight. It’s a dual-flush converter from HydroRight. It’s a $25 device that converts almost any toilet into a dual-flush system. We’re going to give one away, at the end of today’s program, to one caller drawn at random. So pick up the phone and call us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to help you with all of your projects this holiday season.

    And if you find that you’re preparing your home for guests this time of year, here are a few ways that you can actually make sure that your guests feel super-comfortable.

    Now, first of all, you want to make sure that you’ve got a great mattress in your guest room. It’ll make your visitors feel really welcome. But if that’s not in your budget or you’re thinking that the one you’ve got isn’t so great, don’t worry. Head on over to your local bed-and-bath store. You can get a feather bed; it’s like a mattress cover. Very affordable and it really makes a mattress super-duper-comfy.

    And don’t be afraid of air mattresses. They inflate really easily. They work great, especially if you don’t find that you have a true guest room in your home. And it really is comfy and you can offer that. Plus, you don’t want them to be too comfortable.

    Now, if you want to make sure that their bed is a really great place to sleep, add extra pillows. And make sure that you’ve got an extra blanket nearby, just in case maybe that room is a little cooler than they like and you don’t want them snooping around.

    And also, wherever you’ve got your guests in your home, you want to give them a couple of things to really make that space work for them. You want to make sure that they’ve got a side table with a reading light, maybe some storage, definitely a clock. And if you want to go for that hotel feel, add a bottle of water and they’ll feel like they’re right at home.

    TOM: For more tips, you can head on over to MoneyPit.com and search on our articles for “holiday guest spaces.” That’s all online at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Brandy in California is calling in about a sprinkler issue. Tell us what’s going on.

    BRANDY: Yeah, we have this issue with our sprinklers when they go on and when they switch from the front sprinklers to the back sprinklers. It makes a loud knocking sound: so loud that it wakes us up in the middle of the night. And we just want to figure out how to fix it.

    TOM: What does it sound like?

    BRANDY: What does it sound like? Just like if you hit the wall: a loud – just one loud knock.

    TOM: OK. Well, it’s probably the valves.

    BRANDY: OK. That’s what we thought.

    TOM: Yeah, there’s a valve that basically, because of a timer, basically takes one – you know, one zone goes on and then the valve shuts that one off and another one comes on. So I’m sure it’s the valve that’s clanking on and clanking off. What you could do is you could manually turn on the zones and see if you can replicate that sound and certainly could identify which valve is making the noise and replace it. It shouldn’t be a big deal.

    BRANDY: Oh, OK. So just replace the valve?

    TOM: Yeah, replace that part of the control.


    TOM: It should be a minor repair for a sprinkler contractor.

    BRANDY: OK. Huh, OK. So we’ll look into that. Is there anything else that could be causing it?

    TOM: No, I think that’s it. I mean you’re saying it’s switching from front to back. It’s basically going from one zone to the next – that’s when you hear the sound – and that’s obviously when the valve is opening up.

    BRANDY: OK. And aside from it just waking us up, is there any other problem it could cause if it …?

    TOM: No. Nope. Just a lack of sleep.


    LESLIE: Which is a problem enough, itself.

    BRANDY: Alright. So nothing to worry about; we don’t have to worry about any pipes bursting or anything.

    TOM: If you had a burst pipe, you would know it because there’d be water everywhere.

    BRANDY: OK. Alright.

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

    She was surprisingly nice for someone who’s not getting much sleep.

    LESLIE: Right. But the lawn looks fantastic.

    TOM: Absolutely.

    LESLIE: Steven in Iowa is calling in with a question about his parents’ house. What can we help you with?

    STEVEN: Yeah, guys. My dad built Mom and Dad’s house back in 1956.

    TOM: OK.

    STEVEN: And the problem we’re having now is the interior of the windows are just constantly sweating water, condensation.

    TOM: Right.

    STEVEN: And I’ve been told by the heating and cooling guys that the house is built too tight, so I just wanted you guys to …

    TOM: More like you have inefficient windows, Steve.

    STEVEN: You think it’s just a window problem?

    TOM: Yeah. I mean here’s what happens: if you get a lot of humidity in the house and it strikes the cold glass and then it condenses, the moisture is released from the air just like when you take an iced-tea glass out in the summer. You get water on the outside of it.

    LESLIE: And it gets all sweaty.

    TOM: That’s what’s happening here and it may be that those 1950 windows are just not very well-insulated, which is completely understandable, and that’s where you’re getting all the condensation.

    Now, that said, there are things that you can do inside the house to reduce humidity. One thing to check is to make sure that you have good ventilation all the way through the house and up into the attic, because you get a lot of vapor pressure that forms in the house. It works its way through the walls, it gets up in the attic and has to be released.

    And if there’s not good ventilation there, like good ridges and soffit vents – which would be uncommon in a 1950s house; it’s something that has to be added after the fact – you can get a lot of humidity. If you don’t have exhaust fans in the bathrooms and exhaust fans in the kitchen, things like that – again, somewhat common in an older house – then that can contribute to it.

    But I think the issue here is not so much that you have too – a house that’s too tight, in that you just have a house that has some efficiency issues.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And homes are being built more tightly today, so your dad was right on par with, you know, modern building standards.

    STEVEN: To replace the windows right now, will I still have the same problem, because I haven’t made the rest of the house more efficient to …?

    TOM: No. What you’re going to find is that when you replace the windows, that the new glass is going to be pretty much the same temperature as the interior walls and so it’s not going to condense on it anymore.

    LESLIE: But I mean I would still look into a bathroom vent fan, proper exhausting in the kitchen area, just to make sure that you get extra moisture, when you create it, out of the house.

    STEVEN: OK. I sure appreciate you guys’ help. I listen to you all the time. Love you guys. Bye.

    TOM: Alright. Our pleasure. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    What a good son Steve is, taking care of his mom and dad’s house.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s so nice that his dad built the house. That’s great.

    TOM: Yep. Absolutely. Keep it in the family, Steve.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Hey, stink bugs, if you’ve ever had them, bleh, you know how they got their name. We’re going to tell you how to get rid of these little, stinky guys that will invade your home this time of year, 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 hey, do you feel a breeze inside your home every time the wind blows? If you do, you might want to Google “money pit ceiling drafts.” We’ve got some great tips on our website that will help you save energy by cutting down on those drafts and possibly making them go away forever. Just Google “money pit ceiling drafts” to find out how.

    LESLIE: And remember, guys, The Money Pit website is full of a lot of great information. And while you’re there, you can head on over to the Community section and post your question, just like Maya from Connecticut did. And she wrote: “How do I get rid of stink bugs in the house without hurting my dog? The house really stinks.”

    TOM: You know, stink bugs are pretty annoying and they get their name because of a liquid substance that they emit when you crush them. So you don’t want to squash your stink bugs. Or sometimes if they get …

    LESLIE: Yeah. And they smell like rotten food and cheese.

    TOM: It’s nasty. It’s nasty.

    LESLIE: It’s gross.

    TOM: So, what you do with stink bugs is you vacuum them up. But you have to remember this: when you vacuum up the stink bugs, it’s also important to toss the vacuum bag right away. Otherwise, they will sort of disintegrate in the vacuum and the next time you turn it on, guess what?

    LESLIE: Eww.

    TOM: You will be spraying stink-bug mist throughout your entire house. So remember, don’t crush them; just vacuum them up.

    And if you want to try to slow down their growth, seal up those cracks and crevices around your house. And you can use any standard insecticide, as well, if you want to get rid of a big mess of them.

    Alright. Next post is from Kathy. She’s complaining about a shower stain. She says, “I have a dark stain on my shower floor. It was there when I bought the home new and I don’t know how to get rid of it. I’ve tried everything. It cannot seem to get it to disappear. Any ideas?”

    Yes. What I would try is OxiClean. Make a paste of it and kind of brush it across the entire shower floor. Let it sit there for about 15, 20 minutes and then scrub it away. If it’s still there, then that stain is so deep into the grout, what you might want to do is use a grout knife to cut out the old grout and then actually regrout the shower.

    If you go to a website for a company called Spyder – S-p-y-d-e-r – they actually sell a grout blade that fits in a reciprocating saw and makes that job really, really quick to do.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And once you regrout, make sure you seal it right away once it’s cured. This way, it’ll stay nice and clean.

    TOM: Well, in just days, families all over the country will be gathering around a candlelit table for the Thanksgiving feast. But will you be gathering around a fire hazard? Leslie has got some tips on how to stay safe, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You guys know I love a table that’s beautifully lit with candles. And really, nothing completes a Thanksgiving atmosphere like those beautiful, warm, glowing candles. But unfortunately, more than 15,000 house fires are caused by candles each year.

    Now, you probably know the basics of candle safety: don’t leave the room with one burning, check the area to make sure that there’s nothing flammable close by and you want to clip the wick on your candle to ¼-inch each time you burn that candle.

    Now, there are some candle safety rules that might not be as obvious. You want to place candles about 3 inches apart, at least. You want to always use a snuffer to extinguish the flame, because blowing on those candles can actually cause hot wax to spray. And if you try to put water on a candle to put it out, it can actually cause a glass holder to break, so just be smart.

    Also, you don’t want to burn a candle all the way down. You want to make sure that you snuff it out when there’s about 2 inches of wax left. And never use a sharp knife or any kind of object to remove wax from the holder. It could weaken the holder and you may not know until the next time, when you actually put a candle in it and it shatters or breaks.

    Just keep these things in mind and you can enjoy a beautifully candlelit Thanksgiving dinner table. Just be safe about it, guys.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Coming up next week on The Money Pit, we are on location. We are heading out to Bedford, Massachusetts to broadcast with our pals from This Old House. It will actually be Wrap Day for the Bedford project. We’ve got a two-hour special. We’ll be on location learning all about how this Revolutionary War home was constructed and then reconstructed by the team at This Old House. And that entire broadcast will be presented by Icynene.

    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 2011 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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