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Learn Which Appliance Features Are Right for Your Lifestyle, FEMA Explains How to Stay Safe in a Disaster, The Benefits of a Tankless Water Heater, 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: Welcome to this hour of the program. What are you working on this holiday weekend? We want to help you get it done. Whether it’s a do-it-yourself or a direct-it-yourself project, call us; let us help you take that first step. The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.

    Hey, are you looking for some new appliances to fill your home with this spring? They can cost a bundle so before you buy them, you want to make sure you know which features work best for your lifestyle. We’re going to have some ideas on that topic, coming up in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And we’ve all had that rude awakening of jumping in the shower in the morning, only to get hit with a blast of freezing, super-cold water. Well, there is a way to stop that from happening and save some money along the way. And that tip is coming up, in just a bit.

    TOM: And also, we are barely into the spring storm season and we’ve already seen horrific and deadly weather. The director of FEMA’s Ready Campaign is going to join us later this hour with some information on how to protect your home and your family from those natural disasters.

    LESLIE: And how would you like to see the very best home transformations from This Old House? Well, one lucky caller is going to get Kevin O’Connor’s book, which shows the coolest makeovers that they’ve done on This Old House in the past 10 years. And what’s even cooler is that we’ve had it autographed by the entire cast.

    TOM: And that prize is going to go out to one caller who picks up the phone and calls us with their old house or their new house or their really any-age-house question at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones. They’re lighting up.

    Leslie, who’s on first?

    LESLIE: Eva in Florida is on the line and has a cooling question. How can we help you today?

    EVA: My home is 40 years old and I’ve been in it from the time it was built. I’ve had two change-outs on the air-conditioning unit.

    TOM: That’s about right.

    EVA: It’s a central air-conditioning unit. And every time these guys come in – I have one guy come in once every six or eight months to check the cooling or the heating unit to make sure everything is up to snuff. And every time they come in, they say, “Well, you ought to update your thermostat.” And I’ve had them tell me three or four times that I need to replace my thermostat.

    Well, I had a friend of mine who tells me – he says, “Well” – he said, “Basically, all your thermostat does – heat, cool and shut off.”

    TOM: So, I think what – have they mentioned to you that you might want to install a clock setback thermostat, Eva?

    EVA: Well, they just said thermostats; they didn’t tell me any particular kind.

    TOM: I’m betting that you have a very simple thermostat, which is heating and cooling, and you just set it and forget it, right?

    EVA: That’s correct.

    TOM: So what they might be suggesting is that you replace the old thermostat with an updated one that has a clock setback built into that. And how that can help you – and it helps you more in the cooling – in the winter season, which you don’t get a lot of down in Pensacola. But when it gets chillier, you can set the heat to be a certain temperature at the day and then another temperature at night, so you don’t waste heat at night when you’re tucked nice and warm and cozy under the comfort of the blankets.

    EVA: Yeah. But I just leave my thermostat at one – at 70 degrees at night. I don’t change it.

    TOM: Well, if you just leave it and you don’t change it, then you might be fine with that 40-year-old thermostat. If you want the technology and the energy savings of a thermostat that can go up and down, based on a clock, then you would go to a clock setback. But there’s nothing wrong with leaving the one you have if it’s working properly for you.

    EVA: And is it – either way, I’m going to use the same amount financially?

    LESLIE: If you’re truly just leaving it exactly where it is?

    EVA: Yeah. But when I get up in the morning, I have to turn it on so that it comes back up to warm up the house.

    LESLIE: Correct. If you’ve got a clock setback thermostat or a programmable thermostat, you can enter in your usage. So you can say, “OK, at 7:00 in the morning or 6:00 in the morning” – whatever time, maybe a half-an-hour or so before, you know, you’re going to get up – “set it to such-and-such temperature.” And then you can say, “OK. And then at this time, when I go to bed, drop it down to this temperature.” This way, you never even have to go over to the thermostat. You can just say, “Bloop” and it’ll do that program for the day, so you don’t have to do anything at all.

    Then, say, you’re going on vacation or you’re out of town, you can have an “away” setting and set it to that so that you’ve got it, obviously, at much lower temperatures and it’s not running that program while you’re not there, wasting that energy and your dollars.

    So it depends. If you want to sort of take yourself out of the equation and have your thermostat do its thing on its own, a programmable thermostat really is what you’re looking for.

    EVA: Yeah, OK. Well, thank you very much, dear.

    TOM: 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, design, décor, outdoor living. Whatever you are working on this spring season, we are here to give you a hand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, of course, at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, have you been thinking about buying a new appliance? If so, do you know what features you really need? We’ll have tips on how to choose what’s right for you, so you can pay for those you need and skip the ones you don’t, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: Is your home becoming a real-life money pit? On April 12, join AARP and The Money Pit’s Tom Kraeutler to learn easy fixes for staying safe and comfortable for $100 or less. Register today for free at www.AARP.org/HomeWebinars.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Pick up the phone, give us a call. You’ll get the answer to your home improvement question, plus one caller who asks their question on the air with us this hour is going to get to take home a book with the very best home transformations from the past decade of This Old House. It’s host Kevin O’Connor’s book, The Best Homes from This Old House. It’s autographed by the entire cast. It’s going to go out to one lucky caller chosen at random, to those that reach us for today’s show at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Clarence in Nebraska is on the line with a basement that’s cracking up and he wants to fix it. What can we do for you today?

    CLARENCE: Yeah. I had a contractor come in and pull my basement walls back. And I’ve got these cracks in the mortar. Some are pretty big; other ones are hairline. What can I do to fix that? Do you have to (inaudible at 0:07:56) that out or is there a tool you can chip it out and then re-tuckpoint that or what do you think?

    TOM: The common mistake is kind of what you just explained. When you say “tuckpoint,” you’re assuming that you’re going to put more concrete or mortar mix into that crack. And that’s not going to work, because the patch in the wall surrounding it are going to have different expansion and contraction rates.

    So, concrete-product manufacturers have products designed specifically for crack repair, because they’re flexible and designed to stick to the old concrete surface. So, for example, you could go to QUIKRETE.com – Q-U-I-K-R-E-T-E. They have a concrete-repair product that comes in a tube; it looks like a caulk tube.

    And you apply it with a caulk gun and it’s like a sanded acrylic latex formula and it’s designed specifically for crack repair. You can buy it in a 10-ounce size or a 5½-ounce sort of squeeze-tube size. And you can fill the cracks in with that. You know it’s going to dry solid and it’s not going to open up again. And it’s good for either vertical or horizontal applications.

    So you want to use a product like that that’s designed specifically for crack repair because if you don’t, Clarence, it’s just going to fall out and you’ll be doing the same thing over and over again.

    CLARENCE: Hmm. Try to re-crack. I don’t know if it would fall out, would it?

    TOM: Well, it may and very often, it does, especially if you get any moisture in there, as well. If it’s a basement wall and it gets cold, you get some frost heave, it can pop out. So, I would use the product that’s designed for it and that’s just one by QUIKRETE. And I’m sure that that will work out for you, OK?

    CLARENCE: Thank you very much.

    TOM: Well, it’s time now for a Dependable Tip, presented by the experts at Maytag. Now, we’ve told you many times that not all appliances are created equal. And when it comes time to choose a new appliance – whether it’s a dishwasher, a dryer or range – you need to consider what features fit your lifestyle and decide which of those features matter the most to you.

    Dependability is always a top-selling feature and so is anything that saves time. Maytag has a product called the AquaLift Range that is aimed at meeting both of those needs.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what? That range is really very cool. And it has a new self-cleaning technology. The oven has an enamel coating that activates with water and low heat and moisture helps release any baked-on mess.

    Now, all you have to do is run the self-cleaner and then you wipe down the oven. So there’s no odor, there’s no high heat like you normally get when you have any other self-cleaning oven. So the next time your lasagna bubbles over or maybe that pie filling drips or the cheese melts and ends up in the oven, don’t give running your self-clean cycle a second thought.

    TOM: And that’s truly a dependable tip. You can learn more about the AquaLift Range at Maytag.com.

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

    SUSAN: I was calling because I have a large room that was converted from a garage into a living room but it’s got some dark, ugly paneling on it. And what’s the best way to remove it or how do you undo paneling?

    LESLIE: I mean it really depends on how much work you want to do and how that paneling that’s there was attached to the existing structure.

    Now, it was the garage previously?

    SUSAN: Yes. And it was ridiculous. It was paneled and – like it was a really elite garage when we moved in. It was crazy.

    LESLIE: Now, do you know, is the paneling just attached directly to the studs of the wall? Or is it attached by glue to drywall? Have you had any clue what’s behind it?

    SUSAN: I don’t.

    LESLIE: I wonder if there’s a place where you can lift up a piece of trim or remove a switch plate and see what’s sort of going on with that? Because it could be that it was a garage. It could just be that the paneling was put directly onto those studs and then you could pull that off and have a clean slate and just go ahead and put some drywall up. And while you’re at it, add some insulation. Because if it was a garage, there’s a good change there wasn’t any there before.

    Now, if you do find that it was attached to some drywall, it’s probably glued on and everything behind it is going to be a mess. So you’ve got two choices there. You can either just make that paneling look attractive by painting it. And you know what? When paneling is painted like a glossy white or a glossy neutral color, it actually doesn’t look so bad. It can kind of be that great, interesting base texture with sort of a modern country feel, if that makes sense.

    But if that’s something that you’re like, “Oh, God, no, I don’t even want to see it,” you can easily go over it with ¼-inch drywall. The only thing is where you’ve got switches or outlets or trimming, those things are going to have to bump out a little bit. So that requires a little bit of carpentry but it’s not the end of the world and it is a do-it-yourself project.

    SUSAN: OK. So it really depends on what it’s over.

    LESLIE: Depends on what it’s over, how it’s attached and how involved you want to get.

    SUSAN: OK. Well, I guess the first thing I will need to do then is take a piece off or figure that out and go from there.

    LESLIE: Don’t sound so down; it’s not a difficult project.

    SUSAN: OK. Well, I appreciate the advice.

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

    LESLIE: Robert in Oregon is on the line and is having an issue with some plaster walls at his home. How can we help you?

    ROBERT: Well, I was (inaudible at 0:13:12) room in my bedroom and after applying the plaster, some of the plaster was coming off after I painted it. But originally, I did the living room, which was my first job, and I mixed it – a bunch of the plaster – Imperial plaster. And of course, I mixed too much and it got hard, you know? So I learned not to mix so much, because it only – you can only use so much during a certain time, you know, before it sets up.

    So, anyway, in the next room, I drywalled it, finished it and then I used a product called Plaster-Weld, which is supposed to be a primer for the plaster.

    TOM: Right. Plaster-Weld is a bonding agent.

    ROBERT: Right.

    TOM: And you used this on top of drywall? Is that correct?

    ROBERT: Yes.

    TOM: Was it new drywall?

    ROBERT: Yeah, new drywall.

    TOM: OK.

    ROBERT: But I’d primed the walls first and then put the Plaster-Weld over that.

    TOM: OK. Hmm. OK.

    ROBERT: And then mixed up my plaster – it was Imperial plaster – and applied it and finished it all up and troweled it to the texture I wanted. And then we went back – my wife and I – and touched up a few spots and then let it dry overnight. Then we put a primer on it and while putting the primer on it, some of the plaster was coming off.

    TOM: First of all, I would not have primed the drywall. I don’t really see a reason to do that. You prime the drywall to control adhesion and to stop the absorption, I should say, of the new paint – the top coat of paint – and to get an even sheen. But you weren’t really concerned about sheen because you intended to do a plaster coat.

    You were basically building what’s called “plaster lath.” This is the way homes were done in the 50s, where you have a drywall base and then you put a plaster coat on top of that. The bonding agent was the right thing to do but that should have gone directly onto the drywall. Now you put the drywall on and then you put a primer over that and then you put the bonding agent on top of that. So now you have to get the bonding agent to stick to the primer and that’s a little more difficult than getting it to stick to the raw drywall.

    So I think you’ve got a situation now where you’re going to have this problem potentially repeating itself. So I hate to tell you this but what I might do is put another layer of drywall over this – real thin layer – and start again. You don’t have to use ½-inch; you can use ¼-inch just to skim it. And then put the plaster over that.

    ROBERT: Alright. Thanks.

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

    LESLIE: Kelly in Washington is on the line with a wall-texture question. What’s up? You like it or you don’t like it?

    KELLY: I don’t like it on the interior walls. And it’s only on some of the walls, so I’d like to just get it off.

    TOM: OK.

    LESLIE: Are you sure it’s on drywall and it’s not a plaster finish on a plaster wall?

    KELLY: It’s on – oh, I’m not sure. I’m not really a home builder/expert at all, by any means. It’s just looks like a normal wall to me. It’s built in the 80s and it has a texture and it’s interior wall. So what do you think?

    TOM: Well, if it’s a wall surface, it’s probably a little more durable than what we would see on a ceiling. A ceiling is definitely a softer – and sometimes if you just dampen it, you can scrape it off.

    Now, for a wall, not so much. So your solution here is to probably sand it off. So I would start with a very fine sandpaper: maybe like around 150 or 200-grit sandpaper. And see if it takes it off.

    There are tools, also, that are wall sanders that are used in the drywall-sanding business, that hold that paper nice and flat so you don’t sort of dig into the wall. So if you find that it’s working really well, that’s probably the process to follow.

    Now, when you do sand it flat before you paint it, this is a situation where it’s going to be very important that you prime it. Because if you don’t, you’re not going to have a surface that is going to be really ready for that top coat of paint. Primer is sort of the glue that makes the paint stick and whenever you have a raw surface like one that you just sanded, you definitely want to prime it first.

    KELLY: OK, perfect.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Well, if these past few weeks are any indication, we could be in for a rough spring storm season. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is standing by, ready to help. That’s why we’ve got the director of their Ready Campaign joining us to help you prepare, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Quicken Loans. Call Quicken Loans today at 888-450-0024 or go to QuickenLoans.com to receive your free home-loan review. They’ll give you their best possible mortgage at their best possible rate, in the shortest amount of time. That number, again, is 888-450-0024. Equal housing lender. Licensed in all 50 states. NMLS Number 3030. Call today. 888-450-0024.

    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: Well, winter is finally over but just when you thought it was safe to go back outside comes the spring storm season.

    LESLIE: That’s right. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has a program called Ready that’s aimed at helping you prepare and plan and simply stay informed about any disaster that might be headed your way.

    So we’ve got Darryl Madden and he’s the director of FEMA’s Ready Campaign, joining us now to help us get prepared.

    Hey, Darryl.

    DARRYL: Thank you so much for having me.

    TOM: So, Darryl, talk to us about the Ready Campaign that is put together by FEMA. What exactly is that and how is it designed to help us stay safe in the event of a severe storm or other natural occurrence?

    DARRYL: Exactly. The one thing about Ready and – the first thing is that what we really want to do is make sure we bring awareness so that people can take reasonable steps in order to be prepared to face emergencies and disasters.

    So the first thing that we obviously want to do is to bring awareness to that. The second thing is we want to create a platform where people can go in and readily accessible information is available, that they can not only educate themselves on the risks that they are posed in the areas that they live but the steps that they can take in order to be better prepared.

    LESLIE: Now, that’s really great and I think last year, we really saw a lot of odd, natural phenomena and a lot of weather situations. And I know when anything like this happens, the first thing you think about is getting in touch with your family members. “Is everybody OK? Who’s safe? Who’s where?” And that communication usually is the first thing that goes away in an event or any event.

    DARRYL: That’s so true. And I think that we see that when we had the earthquake here on the East Coast. So, yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

    And what we would want to emphasize to families right now is right now is the time to really sit down and talk about how you’re going to communicate if those events do impact your community. How are you going to communicate if you cannot use traditional methods? And there are many other sources that are out there that allow us to communicate.

    One thing that we have learned over our disaster experience is that text messaging is certainly more resilient than we thought. And now, with social media as prevalent as it is, that is also another means by which people can communicate that they’re fine.

    TOM: It’s not just a telephone call anymore.

    DARRYL: Absolutely.

    TOM: We’re talking to Darryl Madden. He’s the director of FEMA’s Ready Campaign.

    Now, Darryl, no matter where you live in the country, we all face the risk of lightning storms. What’s your advice to prepare for that particular situation?

    DARRYL: Absolutely. The first thing is if you receive any warnings from local emergency management, certainly adhere to any advice that they’re providing. But we also emphasize that, you know, when these storms move through, they’re very dynamic and people should take the opportunity to educate themselves through an old radio, which will inform them of weather conditions and how they are developing. Electrical storms are very dynamic: they move very quickly and they can sometimes appear without warning.

    So, obviously, we always want people to also use common sense. If you see a storm on the horizon, take shelter.

    LESLIE: And that’s a good point. I mean just for my family, we live on Long Island and with Hurricane Irene, I was ready to get my family in the basement and sleep on the floor. And my husband, who’s from Florida and survived Andrew, was like laughing at me, that this was, oh, a nothing incident. But for me, it really was about making sure that we were prepared and making sure that we had everything necessary. And in the end, tornados went two blocks away from our home and we were very lucky.

    So, how do you prepare? Was I crazy to think to get down in the basement? Because I’m not familiar with tornados but petrified of them and my instinct was just to hide.

    DARRYL: Right. And it – well, I think the key thing here is take the most appropriate shelter that you have available to you. The most appropriate shelter in a home is obviously a room that does not have any windows, that’s towards the center of the building. If it seems as though it’s a direct impact, studies have said that the bathroom is probably the best place to be and shelter yourself inside the bathtub.

    But it all depends on where you are at any given time. We’ve had circumstances where tornados have hit and people have been out, obviously, shopping and engaged in commerce. And we have had people activate their emergency action plans and have actually saved lives as a result of acting quickly and knowing what to do.

    TOM: Darryl, many of us remember Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. And what did they do? They ran to the root cellar to hide. But today, we’ve got some pretty fancy root cellars and more importantly, we have some pretty fancy, totally disaster-proof rooms that are available to be built into your home, that can protect you from situations like this. What’s your take on those types of storm closets and so on that are available?

    DARRYL: Oh, absolutely. If you’re in a prone area, building those types of rather robust shelters certainly can pay off dividends if you’re impacted. We encourage that to take place in new construction and we think that that is certainly a way to go. And if you’re able to retrofit, that’s also a good idea to do that.

    But the whole idea is within the resources that you have, the means that you have available to you, develop some type of plan about what you’re going to do when these type events occur. Time and time again, we look back and we say that the biggest enemy is time. And if you’re able to react quickly, decisively and you know what’s going to happen as far as how you’re going to be able to communicate and what your emergency action plan is within your family, that, once again, is going to put you head and shoulders above the game.

    TOM: FEMA’s website for preparation is Ready.gov. It can help you determine your risk for different disasters. Very useful information.

    Darryl Madden, FEMA’s Director of the Ready Campaign, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    DARRYL: Absolutely. Thank you. And the time to prepare is now.

    LESLIE: Well, you know it’s happened to you: you run the dishwasher and the hot-water wash for the whites at the same time; now, you have to wait for your shower. How would you like to have hot water with no warming-up time? It is possible. We’re going to tell you how, after this.

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    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Flood. Know how to open a can of wood stain? If it’s Flood Wood Stain, you’ve already mastered the hardest part. From the first board and brush to the last, Flood products make it surprisingly simple to protect and beautify your deck, fence and more. Find a retailer at Flood.com.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And you should give us a call at 888-MONEY-PIT. We’re here to help you with your home improvement projects but we’ve also got a great prize up for grabs. We’re giving away to one lucky caller a book from This Old House host, Kevin O’Connor. And it’s a look at the best home redos from the past 10 years of This Old House. And it’s autographed by all of the cast members. It’s a completely awesome prize.

    The number is 888-MONEY-PIT, so give us a call.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Brian in North Dakota is taking on a roofing project. How can we help you with that?

    BRIAN: I was wondering, I’ve got a – it’s time to reshingle my roof and the original shingles have lasted for 27 years. But I’m kind of liking the looks of a metal roof, from what I’ve been seeing.

    TOM: Right.

    BRIAN: What’s the pros/cons of going metal against asphalt shingles?

    TOM: Well, I mean the pro of a metal roof is that it’s a lifetime roof; they last a long time. Depending on the type of roof you put on, you could go 50 to 100 years.

    BRIAN: OK.

    TOM: The cons are they’re really expensive.

    BRIAN: OK.

    TOM: So this better be a house that you’re going to be in for the duration, Brian, because it’s just a very costly roof to install.

    The other advantage of a metal roof is that they have low-E coatings on them today. And I don’t know that a low-E coating is going to last you 50 to 100 years but at least for the first 10 or 20 years of it, this low-E coating works to reflect the sunlight as it hits it and keeps the home cooler in the summer.

    BRIAN: OK.

    TOM: So it acts just like low-E would in, say, a replacement window.

    BRIAN: OK. How about now in the winter, snow build and ice, I guess, with the asphalt? They use a snow rake when you get a lot of snow in the winter up here?

    TOM: Yeah, you have to have a snow guard on the edge of it, especially in your neck of the woods, because the snow will slide off it and of course, you don’t want to get hit with those chunks of snow when it comes down off your roof.

    BRIAN: Right.

    TOM: It definitely doesn’t have the friction that an asphalt-shingled roof has, so you definitely will have more snow sliding off it.

    By the way, if you do decide to put one on, I would recommend that you take off the asphalt shingles as part of that process.

    BRIAN: Oh, OK. Strip it right down to the plywood?

    TOM: Yeah, put it right on the plywood. If you’re going to spend this kind of money, let’s not trap the old roof underneath it.

    BRIAN: OK. I guess that was my question. I sure like the looks of the metal roofs I’ve been seeing. They’re kind of few and far between in my area.

    TOM: Yeah, they’re beautiful, aren’t they? Mm-hmm. Yeah, they’re gorgeous. Yeah and I’m sure it’ll contribute to your home value, too, but get some prices and then you can make a better-informed decision.

    BRIAN: Alright. Thank you, sir.

    TOM: Well, tell me this hasn’t happened to you: you crawl out of bed on a chilly morning, you make your way to the shower and then you get blasted with cold water. You can stop that from happening with a tankless water heater.

    These water heaters have a lot of advantages. They’re energy-efficient because they only heat the water as it is needed and they just about never run out of doing that.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Now, traditional water heaters, what they do is they heat their tank all day long and really all that does is burn your energy dollars as they’re doing it. And when the water tank is used up, you have to wait for them to heat up another batch of water.

    But tankless water heaters, they just heat as the water passes through on demand. And the other cool part is that they’re also small, so you can pretty much install them just about anywhere, including right next to the bath where you take that morning shower, so you won’t have to wait for anything.

    Now, we’ve been fans of tankless water heaters at The Money Pit for some time. And if you’d like to know more, go to MoneyPit.com and search “tankless water heaters.” You will get a ton of information and I promise you will get super-excited about this technology.

    TOM: Definitely. And we’ve got more great money- and energy-saving tips just like that. We’re going to have them all month long as a part of our Green Home Series, sponsored in part by Philips Lighting Company. Philips has created products that can save energy in all of your lighting fixtures, while making your home look great. See what light can do at Philips.com.

    And for more great eco-friendly ideas and products, check out our green guide on MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: Rick in South Carolina is on the line with a concrete question. Tell us what’s going on.

    RICK: I have a garage floor and it has several cracks in it. And I’m anticipating painting the floor but I was going to see if there was something I could do to cover the cracks so they wouldn’t show so badly.

    TOM: Yeah, you’re going to have to patch those first and the way you do that is with an epoxy patching compound. Epoxy is sticky enough where it will really adhere to the old concrete and fill those cracks in nicely and then you can paint on top of that.

    RICK: OK.

    LESLIE: And that’s really the only thing that’s going to stick. If you try to fill it with more concrete, it’s just going to crack right out.

    RICK: OK. Well, I thank you so very much.

    TOM: Well, are you tired of paying astronomical water bills during the summer for yard care? We’re going to tell you about a natural way to water your lawn that’s practically free, after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is presented by Kleer Decking, the high-quality, low-maintenance PVC decking solution that will look as great in 25 years as it does today, thanks to superior stain- and fade-resistance and a lifetime warranty. So you can rest easy on your beautiful, brand-new deck. Learn more at KleerDecking.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 I’m going to be helping you make your home better for free if you join me and AARP on April 12th. I’m going to be hosting a free webinar with tips on staying safe and comfortable for $100 or less and answering your questions. If you’d like to register for the webinar, you can visit AARP.org/HomeWebinars. That’s AARP.org/HomeWebinars.

    LESLIE: Hey. And if you’ve got a question right now, why not go to MoneyPit.com and post your question in the Community section? And I’ve got one here from Phil who posted: “What’s the best way to determine what my walls are made of? Because I want to hang some pictures.”

    That’s an OK question, you know? Nobody knows.

    TOM: Yeah, it is. And it’s really going to depend on the age. I mean if your house was built in the 30s or older, you probably have plaster walls. If it was built, say, from the 40s to the 50s to the 60s and on, maybe up to the early 60s you may have plaster lath. And after that, you would have drywall. But to hang a picture, it really doesn’t matter because no matter what the wall is, you can easily nail into that for a simple picture hanger. It’s when you get into hanging heavier stuff that it makes a difference.

    And if you really have any doubt whatsoever, you’re always better off using a molly or a toggle so that you just don’t take a chance on anything that you hang is going to come tumbling down.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Good point. You really want to make sure that you bite onto something on the back side and that’s exactly what that does.

    Alright. I’ve got another post from Jess who says: “I want to put in a water feature in my backyard. I want to do it myself but how do I know if it’s OK to dig in the area? I’m afraid of hitting some kind of cable or gas line.”

    Yeah, that’s a good point.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a good thing to be afraid of.

    LESLIE: Yeah. You know what’s really important, Jess, is that – you’re right: you’ve got to know where things are. And if you don’t know simply where they are and you actually hit a power line or a gas line, you are responsible, as that homeowner, for those repairs.

    So what you need to know is this number: 811. And you call them up and they’re a service. Their website is Call811.com. And they’re a service that comes out to your property and will mark for you everything that is buried underground so you know exactly where to dig.

    Now, once you know that, with a water feature, basically what you need to do is dig out a spot. You could either use a soft, plastic liner that you can create any kind of shape that you want or you can get some premade plastic liners that you’ll just sort of drop in. And then the question is: how are you projecting this water? The pump is going to be the key. So think about how you put that water up and out and cycle back in and size that pump properly. And that can be the tricky part but ask a lot of questions at your home center and they’ll point you to the right one.

    TOM: Well, even though we’ve had some serious spring storms already, much of the country is still suffering from a drought. Water supplies are running short and one way you can help is by collecting your very own rainwater. It’s not that hard and it’s actually a fun project to do. Leslie has got some tips on how you can do just that, in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: That’s right. You know, rainwater collection is actually a time-honored tradition that dates way before we’ve had municipal water facilities. Although it’s not for drinking or watering your edibles, it is a great way to gather enough water to use on your grass and your flowers.

    So, to do this, you’re going to need a rainwater collection area, which really is just a fancy way of saying “your roof.” You just need to make sure that your gutters are clean. Then what you do is you place a barrel under your downspout. And there are actually barrels of toxin-free resin that are designed just for this purpose. And they usually come with a spigot so that you can actually hook your hose right up to them for your lawn-watering. It’s free water, directly from Mother Nature. Your lawn and your wallet will thank you.

    TOM: Good tip.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show and speaking of lawns, it’s time to go to work if you want your lawn to be the pride of your block. We’re going to tell you how to do just that and how to fertilize to achieve that dream, on the next edition of The Money Pit.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …

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


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

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