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Learn How to Save on Energy Bills, Halloween Dos and Don’ts, How to Avoid Emergency Plumbing Calls During the Holiday Season and more

  • 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: Standing by to help you with your home improvement project. Your do-it-yourself dilemma gets solved right here, right now, if you pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Coming up this hour, October is Energy Awareness Month. And if your bills are sucking money out of your wallet just like a vampire, well, stop the bleeding. We’ve got easy steps that you can take around your home to reduce energy use and save money, to boot.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, just a few more days until your home is overrun with costumed kids demanding treats. They can. That’s their job that day and you must provide it. But you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got a safe place for them to visit. We’ve got all of your last-minute lists of Halloween dos and don’ts to help you get through the holiday with no scary side effects.

    TOM: And the fall is the start of the busy season for plumbers. With all that holiday cooking and cleanup, your pipes suffer the consequences. We’ll have tips to avoid costly emergency calls to the plumber, coming up, as well.

    LESLIE: Plus, one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a Four Seasons of Clean Prize Pack from Zep, including the new Quick-Clean Disinfectant.

    TOM: It’s a prize worth 50 bucks. Going out to one caller drawn at random from those that reach us for today’s show, so let’s get to it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Liz in New Jersey is on the line and she has a kind of thrifty idea. She wants to reuse wall-to-wall carpeting? What’s going on?

    LIZ: Yes. I have carpeting that is 20 years old but it’s in my living room, which hardly anybody – you don’t have to step on it to go through other parts of the house. And it looks fine. And I was wondering if I could have that taken up, because underneath is hardwood and I wanted to refinish it. But my carpeting in my bedroom, which is smaller, is worn. And I was wondering if I could put that carpet in the bedroom.

    TOM: I don’t see any reason that you couldn’t do that. Pulling the carpet up is pretty easy to do as long as it was put down correctly to begin with.

    Now, I will caution you, if that space in the living room turns out to be not one piece of carpet but carpet with a seam in the middle of it, that seam could be your weak link. Now, that seam might not be obvious to you if it was done well to begin with but when you take the carpet up, you may find that it’s basically two pieces of wall-to-wall carpet seamed together with seam tape. And then if you try to move that piece upstairs, the tape could break apart because now you’re kind of disturbing it. And you may have a bit of a mess on your hands.

    But I see no reason why you couldn’t reuse the carpet. It’s certainly possible. That said, I think the most expensive part of this project is going to be the labor, because you’re going to have to have a professional carpet installer do this work. And considering the fact that the upstairs bedroom is fairly small, the added cost of brand-new carpet might not really add that much to the overall project.

    LIZ: Oh.

    TOM: So think about the economics of this, OK? If you’re going to spend money on an installer, then it’s going to cost you X dollars to have them come in, take the old carpet out, cut a new piece to fit upstairs and move it upstairs. You know, how much more can the carpet possibly cost you, especially if you bought a remnant or something of that nature?

    LIZ: Oh, I see. Yeah. I think it’s one whole, long piece. I really do.

    LESLIE: It depends. Because, usually, the bolts of carpeting are 13 feet. So if you’ve got a run of the room that’s bigger than 13 feet, then you’re probably going to have a seam somewhere in there.

    The other thing to consider is that 20-year-old padding might not be reusable, so you might have to get new padding. Whereas if you got new carpeting, they’re going to throw in padding, for the most part. So, think of all those things.

    TOM: Alright, Liz. Well, good luck with that project. We gave you some stuff to think about. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Ed in Iowa is on the line with a heating-and-cooling question. What can we help you with today?

    ED: I’ve got a home that’s a – it’s a ranch style on the basement, about 3,000 square feet. And probably half of the upstairs, the living room and the kitchen and dining room is cathedral ceiling. That part of the house seems to stay about 10-15 degrees warmer than the rest of the house. I’ve had the A/C checked and they say the size is adequate, so I was wondering if there – is it insulation problem and is there a way to correct that?

    TOM: Well, it’s basically heat loss and yes, whenever you have a cathedral ceiling, you can’t get as much insulation in that ceiling structure. And because heat rises and you’ve got that ceiling up there, you’re going to have a warmer second floor.

    So how do you combat that? Well, there’s a couple of things. One of which is – do you have ceiling fans up there?

    ED: Yes.

    TOM: Alright. And the ceiling fans are not helping? Are they pushing that warm air down so that it can be cooled in the summer?

    ED: It helps a small amount.

    TOM: One of the things you want to do is considering supplementing that second floor with a split-ductless system or a mini split-ductless. It’s usually easier to do that than to overrun the main air conditioner to get the second floor cooler. In the long run, you’ll use less energy that way. Sometimes in a – depending on the home design, you’re going to get a warm area of the house that just can’t get enough air delivered to it because of its design.

    In my home, I’ve got an office on the west side of the house and it just happens to be pretty far from where the air handler is and so it always stays a bit warmer. And I put a split-ductless system in there just to kind of supplement the central air. We still have central air in the same space but the split-ductless supplements it quite nicely and does a really good job of keeping it very cool and comfortable in those warm summer days. So, I would suggest you consider that as an option here.

    ED: OK. Now, would it help to put like a power vent in the roof?

    TOM: No, because you don’t have an attic. You have a cathedral, so there’s no attic space there. Plus, those exhaust – those attic exhaust fans typically take as much air-conditioned air out of the house as they do hot air, because they depressurize the attic so much that they tend to draw it down into the house and steal some air-conditioned air at the same time.

    ED: OK. Alright. That makes sense.

    TOM: Alright, Ed?

    ED: Alright. Thank you.

    TOM: You’re very 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. Now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, who says plastic isn’t eco-friendly? We’ve got tips on how you can save both money and energy with plastic-based products, next.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. You’ll get answers to your home improvement questions and you’ll get your name thrown into the Money Pit hard hat for our giveaway this hour. We’ve got the Four Seasons of Clean Prize Pack from Zep Commercial. Now, this features the Zep Quick Clean and other Zep home cleaning products.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the Quick-Clean Disinfectant is actually an all-purpose, home cleaning product that you can use on most non-porous surfaces. It’s going to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria in only 5 seconds and it will kill most viruses in under 2 minutes. So it’s really the perfect cleanser for your kitchen and bath.

    TOM: And Zep products are available at The Home Depot. You can visit ZepCommercial.com to learn more. And pick up the phone, right now, and call 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question and your chance to win.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’re going to take a call from Tim in Arkansas who’s got some concrete issues with his patio and his garage. You know, maybe wouldn’t have these problems if his friends didn’t help him with it.

    What’s going on, Tim?

    TIM: When it rains, it’s busted and causing it to have holes in the concrete. And it’s just like it’s washing it away. And then I do have a 4-inch slab and the concrete is cracking.

    TOM: Alright. So the patio is a 4-inch slab, the concrete is cracking. Are there a lot of cracks in it? Like is it severely deteriorated?

    TIM: Well, no. But it’s like – I don’t know. It’s kind of like going to the center of the garage and it’s like it started from the 4×4 part, the 8×8 pole. And it’s just kind of – oh, it’s just, I don’t know, just cracking. I don’t know how deep it is but it’s just kind for cracking all the way across.

    TOM: So is the concrete slab inside the garage or is it next to the garage?

    TIM: Right, right. It’s just inside the garage. It’s bent over the …

    TOM: So, look, there’s no easy way to fix this. All you can do is seal the cracks and cut down on the moisture that’s getting through there. Generally, when those slabs crack, it’s because there was some organic material underneath them that rotted away or perhaps the soil wasn’t compacted enough when it was first installed.

    Replacing the slab is a project. Not probably as big of a project as you might think but it is a project. But unless it’s so cracked and so deformed that it’s causing a tripping hazard or some other concern like that, I wouldn’t do anything further than just sealing it and moving on.

    TIM: OK. Well, it’s just a hairline crack. Yeah, you don’t think it’ll get any worse, do you?

    TOM: It could but it’s not unusual for these slabs to have hairline cracks.

    TIM: OK, OK. I mean it’s not bothering anything. I just don’t know how deep it is or …

    TOM: Yeah, I wouldn’t panic over it. It’s not a structural issue, because the floor is basically just there to give you a surface to drive on. It’s not tied into the foundation of the house.

    Tim, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Are you looking to save money on your energy bills? Well, October is Energy Awareness Month. So, here are some do-it-yourself home energy upgrades to help you do just that, presented by Plastics Make it Possible.

    TOM: Now, many types of plastic insulation products are available to help seal your home from the elements. For example, plastic foam outlet gaskets. They help prevent air from escaping through the space around electrical outlets and switches that are on outside walls.

    Installation is easy. You just remove the outlet cover and fit the precut gaskets over the opening before replacing the cover.

    LESLIE: Now, another idea is a plastic chimney balloon. It’s an easy way to help prevent warm air from escaping through the fireplace. The plastic balloon inflates to fit your chimney, acting as a plug to prevent unwanted air flow and it’s easy to remove when you want to use your fireplace.

    TOM: And silicone plastic caulks can help you seal the spaces around your window and doorframes to reduce airflow, as well. There are a variety of types to suit your home’s particular needs and they’re easy to apply yourself.

    And another easy option is to apply plastic spray foam. It comes in a can and it can expand to fill cracks and crevices in your home where air can escape.

    LESLIE: Now, if you’re looking to make a larger investment in your home’s energy efficiency, plastic spray-foam insulation can be professionally applied in your attic. And that can dramatically decrease a home’s year-round energy use. Now, because it’s sprayed directly into the gaps that cause air loss, it both insulates and seals, which provides an extremely effective way to weatherize your home. And that works for both new and existing houses.

    TOM: And this tip was presented by Plastics Make it Possible. For more information, visit PlasticsMakeItPossible.com.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Anne in North Carolina on the line who’s dealing with a wet crawlspace. Tell us what’s going on there.

    ANNE: Hey. I have a question about my house. It was built a long time ago and of course, back then, they didn’t put a house off the ground. And it’s very low. And I’m just wondering how I can protect it from dampness and rot. I don’t have a lot of money to work with and I’ve heard a few things but I’m really not sure what I can do.

    TOM: OK. So right now you’re on a crawlspace and the crawlspace, is it accessible? Can you get in there?

    ANNE: Through one small door.

    TOM: OK, fine. It’s not a pleasant project but it is a project that you can do yourself, Anne.

    So a couple of things. First of all, you want to take steps to reduce the amount of moisture that collects at the outside of the foundation. You do that by making sure you have gutters, the gutters are clean and free-flowing and dumping water at least 4 to 6 feet from the foundation. That’s the most – single most important thing to do is a good gutter system. Second to that is to make sure the soil around the house slopes away. You don’t what soil that’s settled and is very flat and holds water against the foundation. You want it to slope away.

    So you could have some clean fill dirt delivered. Very inexpensive. Basically just carry – pay for the truck to carry it out there. And then grade that to slope away from the walls on all four sides. Over the fill dirt, you can put some topsoil and some seed or stone or whatever you want to do to control erosion.

    Then, the third thing you do is go in that crawlspace and cover all of the open soil with plastic. Get some large rolls of sheet plastic with as few seams as possible. Cover all of the soil with plastic. That stops a lot of the moisture from evaporating up into the air. And those three things together will make a big difference.

    ANNE: Do I need a certain thickness?

    TOM: The thicker the plastic, the better because it just is easier to put down. You end up having to crawl on it and you won’t poke through.

    ANNE: OK. And does it need to be anchored in any way?

    TOM: Nope. You can lay it right over the soil.

    ANNE: Really? I like that.

    TOM: Yep. OK.

    ANNE: Don’t like the crawl part.

    TOM: Alright.

    ANNE: It’s just a little scary under there.

    TOM: Yeah. It’s a little – like I said, it’s not the most pleasant job but it’s not hard. And you can do it yourself. Get a really good friend to keep you company and do it together.

    LESLIE: One who likes squishing bugs and giving you support.

    ANNE: OK. I appreciate it. That answers my question.

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

    LESLIE: Next up, we’ve got Roger in Alaska who’s got a super-loud heater. I guess in Alaska, your heat is on a lot, so you want it to be kind of quiet.

    Welcome, Roger.

    ROGER: We bought a bed-and-breakfast up here and we’re not using it as a bed-and-breakfast; we’re just living in it.

    TOM: OK.

    ROGER: And one of the last things that was done to it was they replaced this old, 77-percent efficient furnace with a brand-new, cutting-edge 97-percenter. And we did a bunch of insulation work on it and everything after that, too. But one thing we notice is the vents – I mean when that thing – it’s like it’s a variable stage. And the vents seem to roar sometimes when it gets to blowing warm air.

    TOM: Right.

    ROGER: So we haven’t heard it kick on, I think, full-power. And maybe that’s it; we’re just starting to hear it. And I’m wondering, can – we’re probably going to have to contact the HVAC guys but is there anything that can be done or maybe open the ends of – replace the floor grates with something that’s wider aperture or something? It just sounds like there’s a lot of noise coming out of it.

    TOM: The one question I would have is: did they change the blower speed? Because if the blower speed is higher than it was before – and it might be necessary by – depending on the type of the high-efficiency furnace that was installed. But the blower speed was stepped up. That could make for louder air noises going through the duct system.

    And second to that, it is possible to do a few things to quiet the duct systems, if they’re expanding and contracting and sort of making that oil-can popping sound. They can be reinforced to slow that down. They can also be insulated and you could add additional bracing to it to cut down vibrations. So I think you’ve got to isolate as to whether or not this is just wind speed because of the blower or is it vibration and expansion and contraction because the ducts are just sort of old and loose and like you say, potentially undersized.

    So you do need to look into it a little bit deeper but rest assured that there are a couple things that you can do to probably quiet it. Although having said that, the high-efficiency systems are louder sometimes than the old ones. Because the old ones only had, really, kind of a lazy burner that lit up and then the blower that just sort of chugged along. High-efficiency systems have draft inducers, which are motors that come on and pull the gases through the system so that you’re assured of getting every single BTU out of the gas that you burn. That’s what gives you the efficiency but it does add just a bit to the noise component.

    ROGER: Yeah, we don’t know the history on this thing because we just moved in. And we do know the gas bills are pretty horrendous over recent years; that was part of the disclosure in the sale of the house and all. So we’re happy to have the high-efficiency system. But like you said, maybe it’s just – it’s a requirement because of the high efficiency of it.

    But yeah, we’re going to have to look into a few other things. I’m afraid that it’s going to involve getting an HVAC company in to possibly change out the squirrel-cage blower in there. And I really – it’s a new system; I’d rather not do that.

    TOM: That’s something that I would not do and frankly, that would have been part of the furnace anyway, so you wouldn’t just replace that if it – those are multi-speed blowers and the fan speed can be adjusted. But that would not be part of what I would expect.

    ROGER: OK. Well, I love you all’s show. I’m just worried that we may have bought a money pit up here in Alaska.

    LESLIE: Oh, no.

    ROGER: But we love it. I tell you.

    TOM: Well, Roger, if it turns out that’s what you did, you know the number: 888-MONEY-PIT.

    ROGER: Thanks so much. I love the show.

    LESLIE: Still ahead, if you’ve carved a pumpkin recently or you’re getting ready to sculpt a masterpiece just in time for Halloween, getting rid of those pumpkin guts can lead to big plumbing problems if you drop them down the sink. We’ve got clog-free tips to dispose of kitchen scraps, next, on The Money Pit.

    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: Pick up the phone, give us a call, right now, at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    And curb appeal has never been more important a component to keeping your home’s value up. And one simple way to significantly increase that curb appeal is with a beautiful, new garage door.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Overhead Door makes absolutely gorgeous garage doors in steel, vinyl and wood in so many colors and styles. The hardest part is going to be choosing one.

    TOM: In fact, two of our own, right here, at Team Money Pit – Warren and Kathy on the marketing team – are actually in the process of installing an Overhead Door at their house. And you can watch the transformation, on our Facebook page, at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: And they used the door-designer tool at OverheadDoor.com, where you can actually upload a photo of the front of your house and then use the tool to see your house with any Overhead Door on it so you know exactly what your finished project is going to look like.

    TOM: Check it out at OverheadDoor.com. And don’t forget to see the transformation of one of our very own Money Pit homes at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    LESLIE: Betsy in Georgia needs some help tackling a ceiling project. What’s going on?

    BETSY: My question is how to remove popcorn ceiling. We have a bonus room above our garage that the popcorn ceiling was falling down in spots.

    TOM: OK.

    BETSY: And we scraped and scraped and we weren’t getting very far with it and we damaged the drywall with gouges from being scraped. So my husband put stippling on the ceiling to cover up the gouges and I don’t think it looks good at all.

    TOM: OK.

    BETSY: It looks dumb.

    TOM: So he kind of put more texture back on where he had the old texture?

    BETSY: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah. So now do you have to remove the stippling, which was probably done with the spackle, correct?

    BETSY: Yes.

    TOM: Ugh. Boy, I tell you what, you made it – it went from bad to worse. You know what I would do if I wanted a really clean ceiling and that was the situation? I would knock down as much of that as was physically possible, so it’s nice and flat, make sure as much of the popcorn is gone as possible and then I would put a second layer of drywall over the whole thing. Tape it, prime it, paint it and be done with it. You’ll have a brand-new ceiling.

    LESLIE: Bury it. Hide it.

    TOM: I’m like, “Bury it.” Because that drywall is probably so damaged now from the scraping off of the old popcorn to the adding of the stipple. And then you’re going to have to sand and get rid of that. I just don’t think that – all the work that’s going to be worth you putting into that is just not worth it. You’re just not going to get a really clean look. So why don’t you just put a second layer of drywall over it? It’s really clean, easy to do and it will look much, much better in the long run.

    BETSY: Right. And then we – our other ceilings have popcorn but we haven’t tackled that. So is there an easier way to get it off?

    TOM: Well, here’s the right way to do it – is that you would dampen it and then you would scrape it.

    LESLIE: So you use a paint sprayer or a garden pump sprayer and then you just lightly spray that on the ceiling. You know, get it wet. You’re going to have to cover everything; it is a messy job. And then you just scrape it away with a spackle knife.

    TOM: And by the way, though, if you want to buy yourself some time and maybe – what happens with the popcorn, it gets dirty and grungy-looking. You can actually paint that. There’s a special type of roller that’s a very thick roller that’s got sort of slits in it and presses the paint up inside the sort of the pieces of popcorn. And you can get a nice bright, clean look to it. So, it is possible to paint that and have it look a lot nicer and a lot cleaner.

    BETSY: Alright. Well, thank you very much.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Betsy. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Now we’ve got Rick in Pennsylvania who needs some help getting candle wax out of a wood deck. So was it an awesome party?

    RICK: No, it was just a silly mistake. I was actually carrying a citronella candle and I dropped it and it splashed back on myself and the deck.

    LESLIE: Well, are you OK?

    RICK: Oh, yeah. Yeah, this was a couple weeks ago. I wasn’t. Wax all over me, in my eyes and it was not pleasant.

    LESLIE: Oh, what a mess.

    TOM: Oh, man. That was a mess.

    RICK: Yeah.

    TOM: Alright. So, it splashed all over the wood deck. It’s soaking into the wood, I presume?

    RICK: Yeah, I scraped off what I could but a lot of it did go into the deck. It’s a brand-new deck and I did not seal it or stain it or anything. I was letting the wood dry.

    TOM: Well, there is a trick of the trade for pulling wax out of wood that you could give a shot to.

    LESLIE: Pulling wax out of anything.

    TOM: Really anything, yeah.

    LESLIE: If you get wax on fabric, a tablecloth, on your clothing, this is the way to get rid of it.

    RICK: OK.

    TOM: So what you’re going to want to do is get a clothes iron and a paper bag. And you put the paper bag over the deck and then you put the hot iron on top of the paper bag.

    LESLIE: No steam. Just a hot iron.

    TOM: Just a hot iron. And what it does is it melts the wax and it soaks up into the paper bag.

    LESLIE: Yeah, somehow it magically sticks to the paper bag but not to anything else.

    TOM: It sort of blots up, yeah. But just make sure it’s a paper bag and not a plastic bag or you’ll get the opposite result.

    RICK: Right, right.

    TOM: You’ll be calling for a bigger problem.

    RICK: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And it can be a grocery-store bag or a lunch sack or a shopping bag. Like any kind of brown bag.

    RICK: OK. And just melt it? I mean it’ll suck right up into the bag. Alright.

    TOM: Now, I suspect that once you do that and you wait another season or so before you’re ready to stain or treat the deck, I would just wire-brush that area right over the – where the wax soaked in, before you stain. And I think it’ll just go right in there; I don’t think it’s going to block the stain. Those two tricks will help. OK?

    RICK: I was kind of worried about that but yeah, well, great. I appreciate you guys helping me out.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Rick. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Hey, are you getting ready for Halloween? We’ve got your last-minute list of Halloween dos and don’ts to keep trick-or-treaters safe, next.

    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. You’re going to get an answer to your home improvement question and you’ll get your name thrown into the hard hat for our giveaway this hour. We’ve got up for grabs a Four Seasons of Clean Prize Pack from Zep Commercial, featuring Zep Quick Clean and other Zep home cleaning products.

    TOM: And the Quick-Clean Disinfectant is an all-purpose, home cleaning product that you can use on most non-porous surfaces. It kills 99.9 percent of bacteria in only 5 seconds and kills most viruses in under 2 minutes, making it perfect for the kitchen and the bathroom.

    Zep products are available at The Home Depot. Visit ZepCommercial.com to learn more. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get to it.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Tracy in New York is on the line with a gutter question. How can we help you with this project?

    TRACY: I’m thinking about getting gutters put on my house but I’m not sure what I need to know and what I should ask when I have the contractors come over to do the quote.

    TOM: Alright. So you have no gutters right now?

    TRACY: That’s correct.

    TOM: OK. So, here’s a couple things to think about. First of all, what you want are seamless gutters. So the way they’re made is the contractors come out and the gutter material is actually in a sheet stock and it’s on a roll of metal. And they run it through a forming machine that actually creates the shape of the gutter. And this way, they can make the gutters the exact length that you need for the different sections of your house.

    Now, the number of spouts that you put into the gutter is important, because you don’t have – you want to have less than 600-800 square feet of roof surface per spout or the gutters will back up and get overwhelmed. So pay attention to that.

    Also, think about where the downspouts come down. You don’t want them dumping water right at the corner of the foundation, because that will collect there and it can soak in. It can weaken the foundation; it can flood a basement or a crawlspace. Just generally a bad idea. So you want the downspout to extend at least 3-4 feet away from the foundation. If you had a water problem, I’d tell you to take it out further but if you don’t have a problem, at least 3-4 feet out.

    So, if you have, you know, one downspout and you have a – if you have one section of gutter and you have a choice as to whether the downspout is on the left than the right, use our head about thinking about that. Yeah, don’t bring it out near a walkway or something like that; bring it out in the opposite side of the house.

    Now, the other thing to think about is gutter guards: whether or not you want to put them in or not. Because when you get gutters, you’re going to get the need to clean those gutters. And there are such a wide variety of gutter guards that are available today.

    The kind that seem, in my experience, to work the best are those that work on surface tension. So these have sort of a complete cover to them and the leaves will wash over them and the water hangs this cover or maybe goes through some louvered slots and falls into the gutter. So, think about that. Check out with the company whether or not they offer a gutter-guard option at the time of the installation. And this way, you can get it sort of all done at the same time.

    And then one other trick of the trade is that before you attach these to the house, do you know if the fascia is wood, right now, or is it aluminum? What are you going to be attaching it to?

    TRACY: Wood, I believe.

    TOM: So this is the perfect time for you to paint it. This is your one and only golden opportunity to put a couple of good coats of exterior paint on that. Because once that gutter is attached, you are never ever going to take them off or at least not for a heck of a long time. So get a couple of good coats of paint on that fascia now, before you put the gutter on, so that it’s protected.

    TRACY: OK. That’s great. Thank you so much for your help.

    LESLIE: Well, Halloween is a favorite holiday for many homeowners. You’ve got spooky decorations, costumes and candy and that can all add up to lots of fun. But it can also be a big safety risk. So, here are a few last-minute dos and don’ts to help keep you and your trick-or-treaters safe.

    TOM: Now, as tempted as you may be to turn your front yard into a dark chamber of terror, don’t. Costumes and masks make it difficult enough to walk around, so you do need light to help kids see where they’re going. You want to choose safe lighting options, like your porch light and pumpkin twinkle lights. Don’t go for anything that requires a flame. And if you’ve got a candlelit jack-o’-lantern, put it up on a sturdy table, not on the ground where it can be kicked or stumbled on. In fact, make sure all your decorations are not blocking the walkway or pose any sort of a trip risk.

    LESLIE: Now, if you’re taking the kids out for trick-or-treats, remember this: more children are hit by cars on Halloween than any other day of the year. So, besides being cautious when you’re crossing the street, take a flashlight with you so that the cars can see you. If a house on your route is completely dark, skip it. They may not be home or they’re sending a signal that they just don’t want trick-or-treaters this year.

    TOM: And finally, if you have tons of leftover chocolate, just ship it to us here at The Money Pit. 888-666-3974. Care of Leslie Segrete, right?

    LESLIE: No. Actually, a lot of dentists in our town give the kids – I think it’s like a dollar a pound.

    TOM: Oh, yeah?

    LESLIE: Yeah. Maxing out at $5.

    TOM: Oh, to buy it back? Oh, that’s cool.

    LESLIE: They’ll buy it back. So, look around. Pediatric dentists will collect it. And I also think that the military has accepted unwanted Halloween candy, as well, for all of the men and women serving overseas. So, lots of things if you don’t want to eat it all up. Or I’ll eat it.

    TOM: And we promise a sweet but low-calorie solution to your home improvement project if you pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright. Now we’ve got Jim in Rhode Island on the line with a flooring question. What can we do for you today?

    JIM: I’ve been in a condo for about 10-15 years and got married and so my wife and I are rehabbing the place. It’s downstairs. We’re on a slab. And it’s a different condo situation because I own mine and my neighbor – it’s like a condo duplex and we can pretty much do whatever we want. We’re our own little association.

    So, I have a slab floor that’s got a couple of mild cracks in it, which – we haven’t had a moisture or a water problem of any sort but it looks disgusting. And I thought maybe to seal it off, I should paint it, possibly with an oil-based type paint.

    TOM: I don’t think it’s a bad idea to paint the slab before you put the carpet down, primarily because it will reduce the amount of moisture that evaporates through it. And if you’re going to paint that floor, I would simply use an epoxy floor paint. The epoxy floor paints are designed specifically for concrete. They’re a two part mix, they’re a chemical cure and so they dry reasonably quickly and they do a good job of sealing the floors. And then you can put the carpet on top of that.

    JIM: OK. Because about half of it will be carpeted and the other half, we have – we’re putting down one of those 3/8-inch floating floors.

    TOM: Yeah. Like a laminate floor?

    JIM: Yeah. Not this finished Pergo type but …

    TOM: Mm-hmm, yeah. Yeah, I don’t think it’s a bad idea for you to paint that floor, first, for the reasons I stated. It will seal it quite nicely.

    JIM: Oh, great. I’m so glad to hear that. OK. Well, thank you very much. A two-part epoxy, oil-based paint should take care of it.

    LESLIE: Now we’re taking a call from Alberta in Arkansas working on a window project. How can we help you with that?

    ALBERTA: Yeah, I’ve got vinyl windows that are the drop-downs so you can clean them and they’re real stiff; they’re hard to open and close. I was wondering if there’s anything I can do to make them easier.

    TOM: Have you tried to use any lithium grease on them?

    ALBERTA: I haven’t used anything, no.

    TOM: So what you might want to do is – there are different types of lubricants that are available. You know, WD-40 probably is one of the most famous ones.

    ALBERTA: Yeah.

    TOM: But you can also buy, in a spray can, lithium and it has a tube that comes out of the top of the spray nozzle. You can get it right into the area along the jambs, between the operating sash and the jamb of the window, and kind of spray it up and down. If you overspray a little bit, you can go wipe it down. And that will lubricate that jamb and reduce the friction.

    ALBERTA: Is the lithium better than the WD-40?

    TOM: It tends to stick around a little bit longer. It’s a little thicker.


    TOM: In a pinch, you can use WD but you may have to do it again.

    ALBERTA: Alright. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Still to come, a finished basement is a great way to add usable square footage to your home. But the materials that you use will make all the difference. Coming up, we’ve got some flooring options to use below grade when The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show continues, after this.

    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: Hey, check out our Facebook page, right now, because we’re running the Healthy Home Sweepstakes. Three winners can each get a Get Clean Kit from Shaklee. These are natural products that work well and are safe. The Get Clean Kit includes laundry and household cleaners, along with the tools needed to get the job done.

    LESLIE: It replaces thousands of dollars in cleaning products and each concentrated solution is going to last you a month, so check out the Healthy Home Sweepstakes at Facebook.com/TheMoneyPit.

    Alright. Now we’re going to take a post from Phil who writes: “Hey, guys. I’ve enjoyed listening to your show and I’m looking for some ideas on fixing up my basement. I don’t have any water issues down there but I want to stay away from carpet. There’s a lumberyard down the street and they can cut fresh planks that I’m thinking about laying down over some underlayment and then sand, seal and stain. Any thoughts?”

    TOM: Hmm. Yeah, I’ve got a thought. Bad idea. Solid wood put on a basement floor is going to curl, it’s going to swell and it’s going to make you very unhappy. If you want to put wood in your basement, Phil, you need to use engineered hardwood specifically designed for those damp spaces.

    I do agree that carpet is a bad idea, because carpet in that damp environment, even if it doesn’t flood, it’s going to be damp and it’s going to attract dust mites and that sort of thing, which can really be unhealthy. So what I would tell you to do is to put down a plastic vapor barrier, then you can put down furring strips, then you can put down your subfloor and then you can put down engineered hardwood. And I think you’ll be very, very happy because it’s a very durable product and it’ll last you a long time and it looks fantastic.

    LESLIE: Yeah. And you can always add an area rug or two if you want, just to give it a little bit of warmth and coziness. And you don’t have to worry about moisture.

    TOM: Well, plumbers have a special reason to love Halloween: it kicks off the season that money starts rolling in. And that’s mainly because of what people put in their garbage disposals and drainpipes this fall. We’re going to have some tips to help you avoid a call to the plumber, with advice now in this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word, presented by Blindsgalore.

    LESLIE: Alright. So this time of year, one of the most common causes of plumbing problems is pumpkin guts. Now, I can’t understand why you guys are putting your pumpkin guts down the disposer or in your sink in the first place, because you should be cooking them and eating them. Those seeds are amazing. But let’s talk about it.

    Now, we’ve got that gooey, fibrous inside of your pumpkin. It’s all full of those delicious seeds that should be roasted with salt. That will clog a garbage disposal faster than you can say, “Boo! Boo!” Now, the same goes for your toilet if you were thinking about flushing them down. Now, that’s true with any stringy or fibrous vegetable. Things like celery, potato peels, as well as shrimp shells can wreak havoc if you’ve got a disposal.

    Now, it may seem obvious to you but plumbers get a lot of calls after somebody dumps grease, oil or fat down the drain. So don’t do that, either. If you don’t want to pay for your plumber’s kids to go to college, start composting all your leftover veggies. And that’s this week’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word, presented by Blindsgalore.com.

    Blindsgalore.com creates 100-percent custom blinds and shades that customers love and you will, too. Get designer looks without designer prices.

    TOM: For free samples, free shipping, free window expertise and truly amazing prices, go to Blindsgalore.com. And the first 25 listeners who select Money Pit at checkout will get a free copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure. So go to Blindsgalore.com, right now, and don’t forget to enter Money Pit at checkout.

    Coming up next time on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, how to raise a house. Now, that’s something a lot of homeowners here in the Northeast have had to do. But not every house can be raised and there’s more than one way to do it. We’ll have three ways to raise a house, next time on The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


    (Copyright 2014 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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