Lower Home Cooling Costs, Eco-friendly Home, Installing a Skylight and more
(NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:
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: Here to take your home improvement calls, your questions; solve those do-it-yourself dilemmas. Pick up the phone first, though, and help yourself by calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
Look around your house right now. Yes, you. We know that there’s something on that to-do list. Perhaps the spouse has been nagging you; it’s on that never-ending honey-do list. Perhaps you’re a little tired of paying high heating bills. Perhaps you get a little tired of looking at those windows that don’t open or close. Pick up the phone and call us; let us help. We can’t come there and do the project for you but we can pitch in with some good information, good advice on how to get that job done once, done right so you don’t have to do it again.
Well, if it seems like your air conditioning has been running nonstop these days, that’s because, well, it has. It’s been a really hot summer, especially here in the Northeast where we’ve had a true heat wave. That’s why this hour we’re going to have some tips on how you can lower those home cooling costs with some ideas on how to run the A/C efficiently.
LESLIE: And if you’re aiming for environmentally-friendly home improvements, we’ve got advice on that this hour. You can go further than just changing out your light bulbs. We’re going to have ideas on how low-VOC paints and natural products can help you do that.
TOM: Also ahead, summer sun seems abundant right now but by midwinter, you may have the sunless blues. You can let in the light, though, with a skylight. We’re going to have installation tips for a leak-free skylight, from This Old House General Contractor, Tom Silva, in just a bit.
LESLIE: And this hour, we’re giving away the Stanley CPACK300, worth $299. And now this is a really super-cool compressor with three tools, including a brad nailer, a finish nailer and a staple gun. Wow. You can get a ton of things done with that kit. Plus it even comes with 1,000 fasteners for each tool. Man. You will be working around your house just making up projects, because you’re going to have a great time.
TOM: It’s a fantastic prize worth $299. Going to go to one caller who has the courage, the fortitude, the inspiration to pick up the phone and call us right now with their home improvement question. So, do it. 1-888-MONEY-PIT is the number, 888-666-3974. We will take all callers to today’s program. Toss your names in The Money Pit hardhat and if we draw your name at the end of the show, you will get that great prize from Stanley, the CPACK300 worth 299 bucks. So, let’s get right to it. The number, again, 888-MONEY-PIT.
Leslie, who’s first?
LESLIE: Randy in Oregon is looking to go green and thinking about geothermal heating and cooling. What can we do for you?
RANDY: Well, years and years ago, I had seen a house down in the central valley of California and it was like 110 outside; it was like 72 degrees inside the guy’s house. I said, “How do you do this?” He took me out and showed me that he had dug a trench about 8 feet deep, 18 inches wide and 72 feet long, if I remember right.
RANDY: And it had a little upright that came up with a little top-hat rain cover and some screening in it and he’d run that into his central air conditioning system or his central heating system and with just the blower fan on it and it kept it amazingly cool.
TOM: Yeah. Was he running water through those pipes or was that a – because it sounds like it was sort of a do-it-yourself geothermal system.
RANDY: He did it all himself.
TOM: Yeah, well, he was a man before his time because now we have much more sophisticated systems that use the same principal which is, essentially, to take the constant temperature of the Earth and both heat and cool your house based on that; and a bit of a refrigeration technology behind it.
And geothermal is an excellent technology. If you’re an area that doesn’t have access to natural gas, I think it’s an excellent way to heat your house and, certainly, it’s always been a great way to cool your house.
RANDY: Oh, so I could take – like my house now, we have central heat but no air conditioning at all, so it would be a viable solution that I could go out and dig a trench and throw in a corrugated pipe in the ground and plumb it up? You know, here in Oregon, we don’t need air conditioning but about two weeks out of the year. (chuckles)
TOM: Well, I mean you sound like a very industrious guy, Randy. You certainly could try it yourself but my point is that we’ve got very sophisticated tried-and-true systems called geothermal cooling systems that work very, very well. You may want to think about buying a system that’s already manufactured and then installing it yourself, as opposed to sort of recreating the entire thing.
Randy, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Renee in Michigan is dealing with some sump pump issues. Tell us what’s going on.
RENEE: Well, we have a sump pump that’s right underneath our kitchen and every time it empties, we can hear it. It’s not that bad but when it shuts off, it goes “boom” and it’s really kind of annoying. We don’t know what to do about it. Now we go in the basement and the noise isn’t that loud down there.
RENEE: But when we’re in the kitchen, it’s magnified.
TOM: Yeah, it all rattles, right? Is the sump pump discharging outside or is it discharging into the waste pipes inside the house?
RENEE: Well, I’m not real good at this. We have a water furnace and so it has been attached so that the water from the sump pump goes out the same way as the water furnace water goes out.
TOM: Hmm. OK.
RENEE: Does that mean anything? (chuckles)
TOM: Hmm. Not really. But I’m thinking it goes right to the outside; it doesn’t go to your plumbing system.
RENEE: No, no.
RENEE: It doesn’t.
TOM: Well, part of the problem here is water hammer. It’s because all the water is being pumped out and then it stops and it sort of back-slushes down the pipe. So one of the solutions would be to put in a check valve, which is sort of like a one-way valve on the drain line of the sump pump. So the water will go one way and then once it gets past the valve, it can’t get back again and that can actually solve part of that problem.
TOM: Pretty simple. Now, the second thing is, when does your sump pump run? Is it all the time or is it just after a heavy rain?
RENEE: Well, see, the problem is we had a lot of water in the basement and so it has been running about every 20 seconds.
TOM: Right. Because you had a lot of rainfall?
TOM: Yeah. Alright. Because – well, my point is that what you want to do is to take steps outside the house to …
LESLIE: To reduce that moisture and that water that’s getting into the house.
LESLIE: And it’s not that difficult, you know. You can just monitor your gutters and your downspouts, make sure that they’re free-flowing and that the gutters aren’t overflowing. Clean them kind of regularly and make sure that where the downspouts deposit the water isn’t right up against the foundation wall. You want it to sort of go away from the foundation three feet, six feet. If you can bury them underground and get it far away, go for it.
You want to look at the grading of the soil around the perimeter of the foundation and make sure that it slopes away from the house. If you can do these things to reduce the moisture, then you’re going to see far less water inside because what’s happening as it’s raining, the water is sitting right there against the foundation from all of those factors and then it comes right up into the basement.
TOM: Renee, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Pick up the phone and give us a call because we are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We can help you with your home improvement project, your home design project; anything you are working on. We’re here to give you a hand, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, how are those cooling bills looking lately?
LESLIE: You know …
TOM: Oh, you’re afraid to look? (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
LESLIE: We were actually really afraid, given the high heat we’ve had in the Northeast and our first year with the A/C.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
LESLIE: But so far not terrible but we do have a month left.
TOM: Well, that’s because you’re following The Money Pit tried-and-true A/C efficiency tips. We’ll have those for you, next.
ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Therma-Tru doors are Energy Star-qualified and provide up to five times the insulation of a wood door. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
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 you should give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Bostitch CPACK300 from Stanley. This is a three-tool compressor combo kit including a brad nailer, a staple gun and a finish nailer. You also get all the brads, staples and nails you’ll need for quite a while, plus it even comes with a canvas carrying case. The Bostitch CPACK300 is worth $299. It is a fantastic tool, if you’re in need of it, to buy. But if you call us right now with your home improvement question, you could win one. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s a great prize. So even if you don’t have a question, make one up. I bet you are about to start a project and you are starting to think of those questions, because that really is a super-awesome prize.
Well, this time of year, you might be starting to feel a little bit of eco-guilt because you’ve been running your A/C constantly. I know we have. But don’t fret; it’s actually easy to go green by cutting A/C usage without cutting your comfort level, which we all know is really important as the summer has just been ridiculously hot.
Well, according to the experts at Trane, for every degree you raise your thermostat, you’ll actually cut your cooling costs three to four percent. Now, that can make a huge difference when you consider nearly half of the average household’s annual energy bills come from heating and cooling.
Now, programmable thermostats – they’re super-easy to install and they’re actually going to shave about 10 percent off your heating and cooling bills.
TOM: Also, a good idea to do right now is a professional tune-up because it will increase the life of the system; it can improve your energy efficiency. It can also reduce pollutants and save money, all at the same time. So it’s a good idea to reach out to your local independent Trane dealer to have some preventative maintenance done before the cooling season ends and the heating season begins. Well worth the investment, to make sure your equipment is running as efficiently as it was designed to.
LESLIE: Now, if your air conditioner or your furnace or your heat pump is more than 10 years old, it might make sense to replace them with newer and more energy-efficient models. Now, the improvements in energy efficiency of your HVAC systems have never been better. In fact, the Trane XL20i air conditioner has one of the highest SEER ratings – and that’s for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios – and it’s really the highest one available. And you could save up to 60 percent on your annual energy bill.
If you want some more information on this really amazing new product that’s just getting a lot of press, head on over to Trane.com.
TOM: Yeah. You know, this XL20i from Trane has a SEER rating of up to 20, as you mentioned. That exceeds the minimum set by the Department of Energy. Do you know what that is?
LESLIE: I think it’s like 13. I know ours is 18.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Thirteen. Thirteen. So, you know, the minimum is 13. These guys come up with a product that can deliver a SEER of up to 20. It’s pretty impressive. So the technology is constantly changing. That’s why it makes sense, if you’ve got an A/C unit that’s 10 or 15 years old and really not doing the job, to consider replacing it with a product like the Trane XL20i.
The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Let’s get back to those phones.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Juan in South Carolina, you’ve got The Money Pit. How can we help you today?
JUAN: I want to ask you a question about elastomeric roof paint.
JUAN: I come from Miami and one of the things that I have done in the past, in Miami, to seal the tiles on the roof is to coat it with elastomeric paint.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right.
JUAN: That not only seals the roof but creates a rubber barrier that basically makes the roof last almost indefinitely. Now, my question is: why would it not work here in South Carolina in regular shingles?
TOM: Well, you have hard tile shingles in Miami, correct?
JUAN: Well, yes. I was talking about, you know, ceramic …
TOM: Right. Right. Ceramic or clay. Right. OK. And in South Carolina, you have asphalt shingles? Yeah. Well, it’s not designed to bind to asphalt shingles the way it may have bound to the ceramic tiles that you had in Miami.
I will say, though, that with an asphalt product, there is a type of paint called fibrous aluminum paint, which is a silver paint; very commonly used on flat roofs or low-sloped roofs where you have built-up tar. Because what that does is that actually makes the roof last longer because it forces the sunlight to reflect off of it more so than absorb into it. And with less UV radiation getting to it, the asphalt stays moist longer, doesn’t crack, doesn’t dry out and, hence, you can go many more years without having to replace your roof.
So, I wouldn’t use elastomeric paint, Juan, but I would consider using fibrous aluminum. Now, if the roof is very visible, you wouldn’t do that because, in that case, it’s going to look silver like a spaceship (chuckles) and not very attractive. But if it’s in the back of the house or it’s low-slope, you can’t see it very well, you could use fibrous aluminum paint and that will extend its life.
LESLIE: Justin in Missouri needs some help with a staircase. What can we do for you today?
JUSTIN: I was trying to get stairs put into my house. I have a spiral staircase right now.
JUSTIN: And I wanted to put in a normal staircase because the spiral staircase is a homemade version and not very applicable for us. So, I was trying to figure out the best way to do that; resources, books, anything, any information you can give me would be great.
TOM: Well, the problem is that if you want to get rid of the spiral, you’re going to need a lot more space – physical space – to get a staircase in.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
TOM: I mean the nice thing about a spiral is it needs very little run, so to speak. The size of the hole in the ceiling is pretty much the whole space that it needs to operate. If you’re going to have any other type of a straight run staircase, you’re going to need a lot more distance. Do you have that ability to carve out that much floor space to create a straight or an angled staircase going up?
JUSTIN: Yes, sir. We do. We have a – the whole floor is – only half of it is cut out for the sub-floor and then, behind that, is a framed-up coat closet. So, we would take that out and move it on over. So we have probably, I think, 12 feet of linear space.
TOM: Twelve linear feet? Yeah, you’re going to need every bit of it. And what’s the ceiling height?
JUSTIN: Of the first floor or …?
TOM: From the top of the second floor to the top of the first floor, what’s the ceiling height?
JUSTIN: I believe that – 10-foot ceiling?
JUSTIN: I’m guesstimating. It’s a ranch. It’s a built-in-’68 ranch, so …
TOM: Well, it would be unusual for it to be 10-foot; let’s assume it’s 8-foot.
TOM: Well, Justin, if you have a typical eight-foot ceiling, you’re going to need probably about 9-foot worth of vertical rise from the floor up through the floor joist to the top of the next floor. So that’s around 108 inches. What that boils down to is that you’re going to need a run – a linear run – for a straight staircase of around 11 feet. And the problem is you only have 12 feet and so you can’t do a straight staircase up. You’re going to probably have to do this in two sections where it goes up, say, five treads and then it hits a platform and turns again and goes up again, which means it’s going to cut out and into that room quite a bit.
So the bottom line is if you replace the spiral with a straight staircase, it’s going to cost you a lot of space to do that. So make sure it’s something that you really are prepared to give up because it’s not going to be nearly as efficient as the spiral stair that you have right now, in terms of square footage. It will give you better access; be easier to move around. But doing a straight run with a 9-foot rise, you’re going to need about 11 feet to do that; otherwise, the staircase gets too steep.
JUSTIN: Yes, I agree. Thank you very much.
TOM: You’re welcome, Justin. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Yeah, those spiral stairs, they don’t take a lot of room and they do the job. But if you’re trying to move …
LESLIE: Yeah, but they always make me feel really nervous.
TOM: Do they? Well, you’ve just got to get used to them.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) I always feel like I’m going to misstep and they’re too narrow.
TOM: Well, there is one other option: a fireman’s pole.
LESLIE: That is true. (Tom chuckles) But going up is a problem.
TOM: That’s true. (chuckles)
LESLIE: Tiling trouble; that’s what Art in Texas has got. What can we do for you?
ART: Yeah, I have a little divot in a ceramic tile. It’s about a 1/4-inch around and maybe about a 1/4-inch deep. I had a glass fall on the tile. It didn’t crack it but just knocked out this little hole in there and I tried Googling to find out about how to repair tile – if you can just do a spot repair – and the only thing I’ve been able to find is how to replace the whole tile. And I was just wondering if there’s any kind of like a little concrete kind of thing you can pour in there or something to fill it in?
LESLIE: Is this in a spot where if you did some sort of patching repair job, it would see a lot of action? Is it in a big counter space that you use quite often?
ART: Yeah, it’s right there by a counter in the kitchen.
LESLIE: Because I feel like whatever you use to patch it, it’s not going to adhere as well as you hope that it will and, with cleaning and everyday use, it’s just going to keep popping out.
ART: Oh, OK. So really the only thing you can do for that is either live with it or replace the tile.
TOM: Or replace it with a tile that’s complementary if you can’t find one that happens to be an exact match.
LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
Well, it’s summertime, so let in the light and open up your home with a skylight. Up next, we’re going to have tips on the proper installation, from our friend, Tom Silva, at This Old House, so stick around.
TOM: This is 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: And while there’s plenty of sun abound right now, as the days start to get shorter, having a skylight is the best way to extend that daylight all year long.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you’ve ever dealt with a skylight, you know they can be a little bit on the tricky side, so we’ve got tips on the best type of skylights to install for long-term enjoyment. So we are welcoming Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, to talk about it.
TOM SILVA: Well, thank you for having me.
TOM: Hey, our pleasure. Now you are a guy that has put a lot of skylights in over the years. Let’s start at the beginning. Where do you think the best place is to locate a skylight? And don’t say the roof. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)
TOM SILVA: (overlapping voices) Well, to locate the skylight – well, let me tell you first, by starting off, that I’ve got a few skylights in my house. I think I have 14.
TOM SILVA: Alright? So I know the ins and outs about skylights; living with them. And they do make a huge difference with natural light. If you place them on the south side of the house, you will get a tremendous amount of solar gain in the wintertime but that solar gain in the summer is not really a great friend.
TOM SILVA: So you want to put on filtered blinds to keep the heat out of that area.
TOM: Now, what about the glass for skylights, Tom? Is it important to have the very best, high-performance glass you can afford?
TOM SILVA: Absolutely. You want to have the best glass you can for two reasons: actually, to keep out that high heat that the sun can generate – it’ll actually cut down that radiant gain that you will get but it’ll also help with UV protection; and it’ll also hold that heat in, in the wintertime when you’re trying to heat up that space, or the cooling in, also in the summertime. So it does make a difference on the glass; always buy the best glass.
And if you want to place them on the south side and you’re worrying about the solar gain or too much heat in a -let’s say you’re in a part of the country that just has just too much sun, then they have sun glass that actually reflects the sun away and it really makes a big difference.
LESLIE: Now when it comes to selecting a skylight, does it really make a difference if you choose one that’s fixed versus one that’s operable or really a skylight is a skylight and that’s just secondary?
TOM SILVA: Well, I always think of a skylight as two different things. A lot of people call them “roof windows” or “skylights.” A skylight, when I was growing up in the business, a skylight was a piece of glass that didn’t open. A roof window is a skylight that operates.
TOM SILVA: So if you want the venting capability – and they can make a tremendous amount of difference with venting – if you just crack that window, you get a negative pressure in the house right away and it makes a huge difference for getting heat out of the house.
TOM: What’s your experience been with the reliability of the venting controls, the electronic motors that operate those skylights that are way above your head? Do you find them to be dependable? Have you seen any problems with them?
TOM SILVA: When they first came out, I did have problems with them and I’m going back, oh, 20 years.
TOM: Yeah, well, you and I grew up in the same (chuckles) skylight school, so to speak.
TOM SILVA: (overlapping voices) Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean there were some issues.
TOM: (overlapping voices) And I was thinking the same thing.
TOM SILVA: Yeah, we actually – whenever I put a skylight that will open and close automatically, you want to make sure that you have a rain sensor on them and we actually …
TOM: Yeah. Oh, that’s a good point.
TOM SILVA: Yeah. Because if you’re not home and it starts to rain, you’ll get rain in your house. You want them to automatically shut. I remember the first skylights that we put in at least 20 years ago, there were probably about eight of them and they had rain sensors on them and the rain sensors malfunctioned. So it seemed like the only time they would open is when it was raining. (Leslie chuckles) But we had that problem fixed.
TOM: We’re talking to Tom Silva, from TV’s This Old House, for some tips on buying and installing a skylight.
So you mentioned rain. That’s the enemy. You want to keep that out of your house. What’s the best way to keep a skylight leak-free?
TOM SILVA: Well, flashing, flashing and flashing. Basically, paying attention to the way it is installed is very, very important. They have some great directions on these skylight boxes. Follow them.
And I always go a little bit further with the installation. I always take – and I think now they’re even in the directions but I always take a bitumen product, Bituthene, and I run it around the perimeter of the skylight after it is installed but before it is flashed. And I also make sure that the lower section of the bitumen is on top of the shingles at the bottom of the skylight.
TOM SILVA: And then that bitumen gets covered with flashing so it doesn’t break down from the ultraviolet light.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Got it. Follow the direction of the water and make sure that it is rolling appropriately down the shingles and over the flashing and not underneath.
TOM SILVA: Exactly. Exactly.
LESLIE: Tom, what do you think about sun tunnels? I mean they really offer the opportunity to have something like a skylight but when you don’t have the ideal roofing situation.
TOM SILVA: Well, a sun tunnel is great; you can get them in a couple of different sizes. I believe they’re in like a 14 and a 20 or a 22 or something like that. They bring in a lot of natural light during the day. They make a huge difference in hallways, closets; then you walk in and out of your closet during the day, you don’t want to have a light to have to turn on and off.
They’re great in offices, especially home offices, where you don’t have to run a light during the day. But it’s just that space that you may want to have a little bit of a light and they make a big difference. I believe the new ones even have lights in them.
TOM: Yeah. And they’re actually a lot easier to install, aren’t they?
TOM SILVA: Oh, tremendous. Yeah, I mean you cut a circle in a roof and slide your flashing up under.
TOM: (overlapping voices) And you’re done.
TOM SILVA: Lots of times, we bed the flashing into a mastic before we drop it in place.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Well, good tips and lots of great options and, as I said in the introduction, the sun isn’t going to stay around forever, so now is a good time to think about adding a skylight so that you will have very bright spaces all year long.
Tom Silva from TV’s This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
TOM SILVA: It is my pleasure.
LESLIE: Well, to catch more of Tom and the entire This Old House team, including information on the current project, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot – more saving, more doing.
LESLIE: Gloria in New York is calling in with a flooring question. What can we do for you?
GLORIA: Well, I wanted to know – I have a hardwood floor in my dining room and it’s started to squeak over the last few months. Whenever I walk across it, it squeaks. I’ve asked a couple professionals and they said that I would have to rip out the entire floor and the ceiling underneath it. (Tom chuckles)
TOM: No, what they were trying to say is they need a big project and you’re just the one to give it to them.
GLORIA: (chuckling) OK.
TOM: Nothing to worry about with squeaking floors, Gloria; a very normal occurrence. Most floors are going to squeak. They squeak because of some movement and …
LESLIE: And it’s more of an annoyance than a structural thing.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, it’s not a structural issue. There’s no need to rip anything out. Now, if you want to try to quiet it down a bit, there’s a couple of things you can do. Since it’s a hardwood floor, it’s a finished floor so you have to be careful about how you actually secure the floor.
You can either drill out the floor and screw the floor down to the subfloor below or the floor joist below and then plug the holes – so it’s a little bit of a carpentry project – or you can take finish nails and do the same thing. But you have to find the floor joist – you can do that with a stud finder – and you’re going to drive those nails at a slight angle.
You’re going to have to pilot out the floor first – because, otherwise, it’ll split or the nail will bend – and you could drive those areas a little bit tighter to the floor and that will stop the movement. Once you stop the movement, you’ll stop the squeak.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Chances are, though, there’ll be a squeak in another section.
TOM: You’ll be chasing them.
GLORIA: (overlapping voices) Yeah, that’s what I’ve noticed. It’s started to squeak on the other side, also.
TOM: That’s normal. I wouldn’t panic over it and you absolutely don’t need to tear the floor up to fix it.
GLORIA: Well, great. That’s great news. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Gloria. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
Man, I love these contractors that come in and just predict these major projects.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Doom and gloom.
TOM: Doom and gloom. Panic pedal. This major project has to be done when, in fact, it’s a very, very simple fix. If anyone gives you advice and they’re also part of the solution – in other words, hiring them is part of the plan – you’ve got to question it. Built-in conflict of interest; you’ve got to question whether that’s the right advice and Gloria, I’m glad you did just that. We were happy to help you out.
LESLIE: Alright. Still ahead, easy tips for green home improvements. We’re going to tell you how to pick the best products for your home and the environment, next.
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 toolbox, visit StanleyTools.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. And you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Bostitch CPACK300 from Stanley. Now, this is a three-tool compressor combo kit which includes a brad nailer, a staple gun and a finish nailer, so you can pretty much tackle any project that you might even imagine. And I bet you you will make up a ton of projects, because this is a great prize.
You’re also going to get all the brads, all the staples and all the nails that you’ll probably need for a long, long, long time, plus a canvas carry case for everything. Now, the Bostitch CPACK300 is worth $299, so give us a call now for your home improvement answer and your chance to win for free, so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Well, according to the National Association of Homebuilders, more and more homebuyers are looking for green features now when it comes to choosing new homes. But how does this trend carry over for those of you who already own or are looking to buy existing homes? Well, you can still add value to your home while using environmentally-friendly materials and products.
For example, when it comes to paint, choose products that are labeled as containing low votile organic compounds or VOC. These paints won’t give off a smell and they won’t give off off-gas, which produces noxious odors.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Also, you want to make sure you choose products that are based more on durability than cost. You want to use natural, enduring materials like stone or quarry tile and brick instead of less-durable synthetic materials.
Also, you can replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs which are going to last three to four times longer and they have a much lower impact on the environment.
TOM: And if you’re going to put your house on the market, one idea is to make a list of all the green home improvements you’ve done over the years to share with potential buyers. That’s just one more way to show that you’ve taken good care of your home and the environment.
888-666-3974. Give us a call right now with your home improvement question.
Leslie, who’s next?
LESLIE: Joe in Iowa needs some help getting rid of termites. Tell us what’s going on.
JOE: Well, doing a little bit of work underneath the back deck and lifted up some old boards that were laying underneath there and found a little nest of termites and eggs. The house has a history of having a little bit of termite damage around it.
JOE: And I was curious – I’ve heard you talk about Termidor before on your program but only exterminators are allowed to spray it, from what I understand.
JOE: So I was wondering if there’s a product on the market that I could self-apply that would help me out.
LESLIE: It’s not going to work as well.
TOM: Yeah, definitely not going to work as well and not that I’m aware of. There are some baiting systems that are do-it-yourself and I’m trying to recall the company that makes it. It might be Spectracide but …
LESLIE: The baiting systems are something that you sort of pepper around the yard, Tom? They’re sort of little places that they kind of come to and then get the treatment?
TOM: Yeah. Conceptually …
JOE: Yeah, it’s a little plastic cap with some treated wood in it. Yep, I’ve seen those at the hardware stores before.
TOM: Right. Conceptually, what happens is that you wait for the termites to find this and then once they find it, you replace the wood with a piece of material that has termidicide in it and then they take the termidicide back to the nest. But it takes a long time, you have to monitor them regularly and I really think that using a product like Termidor is the quickest, most effective way to be sure that you get them once, you get them right and they’re not going to come back again.
See, the reason that you use this product is because it’s an undetectable product. That means that termites don’t know it’s there. Now, they live in the soil; they live deep in the soil. And when the product is in the soil, they go through it; they get it on their bodies and take it back to the nest. I’ve used Termidor now in two houses; been very happy with it and haven’t had any recurrence after we did the application.
JOE: OK. So it sounds like it’s worth the investment to have an exterminator come on and apply it then, huh?
TOM: I think it is because, I’ll tell you, those termites will keep coming back and they can find a lot of ways in.
TOM: Joe, good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.
Up next, it’s a great time of year for outdoor cleaning projects, including sidewalks and driveways. We’ll have tips on the easiest ways to clean those, 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.
TOM: Want some ideas on how to transform a simple deck or patio into a total backyard getaway? Well, simply go to MoneyPit.com and check out our staycation solutions. We’ve got ideas on décor, maintenance and furniture, to create the outdoor room of your dreams. It’s all online at MoneyPit.com/Staycation.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you know what else is online? A great and easy way to e-mail us your home improvement question. You can just click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and bammo, we get your e-mail, like this one from Liz who writes: “What is the best way to get mold that is on concrete block off the wall without too much cost? I’m on a limited budget. Is there anything I can do myself?”
Oh, gosh, that’s like the easiest thing, right?
TOM: Yeah. And good luck and good news, Liz: it’s not mold, because mold doesn’t grow on concrete block. What you’re probably looking at – I’m just going to sort of take a guess here that what you’re talking about is a basement that’s got those white/grayish stains on the block wall. That is not mold; that’s a mineral salt deposit.
And what happens is the walls get wet, the water soaks through the block, comes to the inside and then evaporates and it leaves behind its mineral salts. And here’s how you can prove that it’s mineral salts. Go to your cabinet and grab some white vinegar and saturate that what you’re calling a mold stain. You’re going to find out that it’s not mold; it’s salt and it’s going to melt, amazingly so, and it’ll be all gone.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Yeah, and it’s going to disappear lickety-split. It’s something that you’re probably going to have to do quite often but it’s a maintenance issue but it’ll make it go right away. If you deal with moisture issues outside – check your grading, check your drainage, make sure your gutters are clear and free-flowing – you’ll get that water away from the foundation and you’ll notice it appearing far less because you’re keeping that moisture away from the house.
Alright. Now I’ve got one here from Kevin who writes: “I’m looking into purchasing a new refrigerator and most come with a water filter that goes in the supply line for the ice maker and the water dispenser. Can I install a water filter from my local hardware store instead of purchasing filters through the refrigerator manufacturer?”
Do you think he’s meaning the filter itself or the entire filtration system?
TOM: I think he means just an in-line water filter and absolutely; there’s no reason that you have to use the filter that comes from the appliance manufacturer. That’s probably going to be more expensive.
The one thing I would caution you, though, is to make sure that you buy a filter that’s established, because the most important part of the filter is the replacement and you want to make sure the cartridges remain available for some time. And it’s not a bad idea to buy enough cartridges to last you a number of years. Depending on the size of the filter will determine how frequently you have to replace the cartridges that do the filtration. But once every six months is not unusual and you don’t want to run out of them, so make sure that they’re available and you certainly could buy that anywhere.
LESLIE: Alright. Chuck in Washington writes: “Our kitchen sink sprayer will only come out about eight inches. Can we fix it or do we need to replace it?”
TOM: No. I mean that sounds like a very simple project. You simply could buy a longer kitchen sink sprayer hose. However – and this may seem kind of dumb but – take a look in the kitchen cabinet underneath and find out …
LESLIE: And make sure there’s no soap on it or something. (chuckles)
TOM: Yeah. Find out if it’s being obstructed. I mean I’ve got a kitchen sink that sometimes the hose gets stuck because there’s a shutoff valve below it and I constantly have to go in there and actually pull it out from around the valve. I got tired of it and I simply pulled the valve handle off (chuckles), so I wouldn’t have to do it anymore.
But these things happen and you want to take a look down below. Not every project requires a plumber to fix it.
LESLIE: But if they need to, it’s easy enough to replace that tube, right?
TOM: Yeah, those are very, very easy; very simple to replace. They simply screw to the bottom of the faucet inside the cabinet and then up through the hole of a sink and then to the sprayer unit itself.
TOM: And they wear out, so you frequently do have to replace them.
LESLIE: Alright. Good. But check under that sink first. (chuckles)
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show on air and online at MoneyPit.com. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope you’ve gotten some good ideas, some tips; some inspiration on how to accomplish your home improvement dreams.
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.
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(Copyright 2010 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.)