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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

  • Transcript

    Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete

    (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.)


    (promo/theme song)

    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: Call us now with your home improvement question. We’re here to help you get those jobs done around your house. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Coming up on today’s program, are you ready to take the family out to pick up your fresh Christmas tree? You know, live trees can add a very authentic feel to your holiday decorating but choosing the right one for your home can be very, very tricky.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and I always get way too excited when I go look for trees and I end up bringing one home that’s either way too fat and fluffy or just too tall to begin with for the room itself.

    TOM: Exactly, and we’ve got some great ideas to help you avoid that coming up in just a little bit. We’re also going to take that opportunity to slay all the tree care rumors. (Leslie chuckles) And I understand that someone in your family committed a tree murder; a tree atrocity one year by …

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Oh, my mother.

    TOM: She added bleach to the tree?

    LESLIE: She swore up and down, ‘I don’t know where I read this but I heard if you put bleach in the water with the tree …’ She woke up the next day and there was not a needle to be had on this tree. (laughs)

    TOM: I don’t think bleach is an ingredient that is sold in any garden center in America …

    LESLIE: No.

    TOM: … so I can’t imagine it contributes to the – at least the sustainability of a tree. So if you’ve got some rumors of things that you like to do to keep your tree alive, call us right now with that. We may add that to the conversation at 888-MONEY-PIT and we will straighten you out on what really works in just a bit.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Alright, Momma Segrete, I hope you are listening so that you have a nice, green tree this holiday season.

    And also ahead, we’re going to help you save some money on your hot water bills by making sure that your water heater is not losing heat. So we’re going to tell you how to do just that.

    TOM: Also ahead, if you’re a home improver and you’re dropping lots of hints to your loved ones about what you might like, I can suggest power tools. Coming up at the bottom of the hour, we’re going to have some tips from the experts at Ryobi about what’s new in that category, including a drill that actually shifts itself; kind of like your car, your autoshift car. Well, we have an automatic transmission in this drill and it’s really pretty cool. We’ll tell you about that and more in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Yeah, it is definitely way cool. And if you have got a painting project on your list of holiday to-dos, we are giving away a great prize this hour. We’ve got the Styletto paintbrushes. They’re worth 20 bucks and they are super-cool because they’ve got an arrow-tip design; so they make cutting-in a breeze. So your painting projects you will be very happy to tackle.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Alright, here at The Money Pit we sometimes try to determine the source of mystery noises. Diane in California, what are you hearing?

    DIANE: Hi, I have a – there’s a hum that’s coming from inside my bathroom …

    TOM: OK.

    DIANE: … and underneath the bathroom is where the water heater and the furnace and then the septic system pump and all that is. So at first I thought it was that, but I shut the electricity off in the house and it’s not that.

    LESLIE: And it’s really bothering you.

    DIANE: Well, it’s a very loud hum. And so I went out to the street and shut the water main off and the hum went away. And so …

    TOM: Aha.

    DIANE: … my question is have you ever heard of water from the tank of the toilet or some sort of place where pressure is – maybe there’s a leak or something in there causing a hum in the pipes?

    TOM: Well, a couple of things. First of all, copper pipes do a really good job of transmitting sounds but, typically, what causes this is if you have a bad valve somewhere. Now it could be the fill valve on the toilet. It could be the main water valve to the house. It could be another valve somewhere that’s not fully open or fully closed and so when the water runs through it’s causing like a turbulence that causes a vibration that transmits down the pipe causing the sound that you hear.

    DIANE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: So what I would try to do is identify, by turning off different valves; like for example, if you turn off the toilet does it still happen. You know, kind of isolate it that way until you figure out exactly what’s causing the problem. And lastly, when you’re in that crawlspace, I’d also check the pipes to make sure they’re securely attached to the framing because if you have loose brackets sometimes the brackets …

    LESLIE: Some sort of vibration?

    TOM: Yeah, the vibration gets a lot worse.

    DIANE: OK. Well that’s helpful. Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Marty in Michigan has a flooding situation going on. Tell us about the problem.

    MARTY: Well, we have an unfinished basement and on occasion, like July 3rd (Leslie chuckles) when the sump pump and the power went out …

    TOM: That’s a bad day. (chuckles)

    MARTY: … and we had a lot of water – as everyone will remember – we had a flooded basement. It’s not coming up through the floor; it comes up through the crock (ph).

    TOM: Did you have heavy rain back then?

    MARTY: It was horrendous.

    TOM: Alright, good news. It’s always good news when it rains and you get a flood. The reason that’s good news is because that’s an easy one to fix, Marty. I can tell you right now, without even seeing your house, that that water is being caused by two things. Number one, there’s a problem with your gutter system. Do you have a gutter system?

    MARTY: We have added gutters.

    TOM: You didn’t have it back in July.

    MARTY: We’re not trying to solve the water problem. We’re trying to – we want to just – your best recommendation for the type of floor. We’re leading towards the laminate floor right now.

    TOM: Oh, OK. So the water problem has been resolved?

    MARTY: Yes, I mean you can’t – nothing can save you from the kind of rain we had on July 3rd.

    TOM: But did you have those gutters back then?

    MARTY: Yeah, the gutter system was done then. We have spent thousands of dollars in landscaping, extra French drains, extra downspouts, diverting the water from one part of the roof …

    TOM: Alright, so it sounds like you’re on top of that.

    In terms of the flooring, yes, laminate floor is an excellent choice for a basement; highly water-resistant, very durable.

    LESLIE: Easy to install, can look like anything and I think it gives a basement a warm, finished feeling. You know tile, of course, is another great option but tile, depending on the type you choose, can look and feel cold and if you’re trying to create a nice, finished space I think laminate is the best choice.

    MARTY: Terrific. That’s what we’re leaning toward. We’re just looking for the expertise of you guys.

    TOM: Alright, Marty. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call. Let us know what you are working on. Time is running out before the big holiday arrives, folks; so we can help you tackle all of those home improvement chores right the first time so you don’t keep hacking at them over and over and over again. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week we are here to be your home improvement helpers; so give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, if you’re ready to go out and shop for a holiday tree this weekend, we’re going to tell you how to pick the perfect one for your house and how to keep it alive through the end of the year (Leslie chuckles), after this.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information go to Aprilaire.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 and you should give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. This hour we are giving away a set of three Styletto paintbrushes. They’re worth 20 bucks but if you are looking for the perfect home improvement project that’s really going to make a huge difference in any and every room of your house, painting is the least expensive and most impactful home improvement. So if you want to get the job done right we’re giving away these great Styletto brushes. They’re sort of arrow-pointed. They cut in so fantastically you will be surprised that you used little to no tape on your project this time of year. So give us a call for your chance to win these great brushes.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    And if you’re heading out this weekend to pick up your Christmas tree, there are a few things that you might want to keep in mind. First of all, the needles should look shiny, green and fresh; not dry or brown. That’s kind of a no-brainer. Here’s a little test. They should not fall off, though, when you pull on a branch. You can sort of run that branch through your fingers; they shouldn’t fall off in great number.

    Remember to measure the space for your tree. Bring that tape measure along with you to the tree farm and look for a tree with stronger branches like a Fraser or a noble fir. Those will actually hold the heavier ornaments, if those are the types of ornaments that you have.

    Now, if possible, you want to lay the tree inside your car or trunk for the drive home and if you drive with a tree on the roof of your car, tie it down very, very securely. Now, when you get it home, if it has not been done at the Christmas tree farm or the stand, make sure you take a slice off the bottom of it because it helps it absorb water; then, when you put it in the Christmas tree stand, add this secret ingredient that will keep it alive throughout the end of the year. You ready?

    LESLIE: Yeah, I want to know it.

    TOM: Water. That’s it. Just water.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) (chuckles) Alright, Momma Segrete? You got that? (chuckles)

    TOM: No bleach, no aspirin, no sugar, no ginger, no cinnamon; nothing but water. Water is all you need. And all that other stuff that maybe your mom told you needed or your friends have been using throughout the years, it really doesn’t work. Water is all you need to keep that tree alive.

    LESLIE: Cathy in Kentucky has a roofing situation. Tell us about it.

    CATHY: Yeah, I had a new roof put on my house. Part of it was ripped off by a tornado. And I have dormers. I don’t really have an attic.

    TOM: OK.

    CATHY: And the problem is I have something up there gnawing since they put the roof on.

    TOM: OK.

    CATHY: There’s something up in there and it’s in my walls and the other night it was up in my ceiling over my bed and I had to get up and pound on the ceiling.

    TOM: Do you have access into this space, Cathy? Is there an attic hatch or something of that nature?

    CATHY: No, nothing.

    TOM: There’s nothing? There’s no way to get in there?

    CATHY: No.

    TOM: Well, obviously the animals found a way in. I think what you’re going to have to do is cut an access into that; you know, a small hatchway or something like that from an interior is probably the way to go.

    CATHY: OK.

    TOM: Once you get up into that space, one trick of the trade is to take some mothballs and throw it around because a lot of the rodents that infest don’t like that. The other thing that you could do is get a Havahart trap because if the animal is running around it’s looking for food.

    CATHY: Right.

    TOM: Get a Havahart trap and get one for like a squirrel size trap and you can – for bait …

    LESLIE: Because it probably is a squirrel.

    CATHY: Oh.

    TOM: For bait you could use like an apple; half of an apple or something like that.

    LESLIE: Wire it down.

    TOM: Yeah. Trick of the trade; wire it down because the animal will knock it around and it won’t work.

    LESLIE: Heading out to Utah where Emma needs some help with a roofing situation. What’s going on?

    EMMA: Yeah, my daughter bought a house …

    TOM: OK.

    EMMA: … and it turns out it’s going to be a bit of a fixer-upper. So her shingles are flapping in the wind.

    TOM: Flapping in the breeze, huh? (Leslie chuckles)

    EMMA: Yeah.

    TOM: OK.

    EMMA: And she wants to know what she could do to so she won’t lose any more than what she has …

    LESLIE: So they stay put.

    TOM: Yeah, very simple. What’s she’s going to do is pick up some asphalt roof cement. It comes in a caulking tube. And she’s going to put a little dab of that underneath all of the loose edges of the shingles and press them down.

    EMMA: Oh.

    TOM: And that will dry and it will seal them in place. And you know, if they’re getting to be older, she may have to do that from time to time.

    Now if those break off, then you can actually buy replacement shingles and you can sort of extract the one shingle that’s broken and slip in a new shingle, too, without replacing the whole roof. So it’s totally repairable and something that she can probably stay on top of.

    EMMA: OK. I thank you so much. I appreciate that.

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

    LESLIE: Mel in Texas, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    MEL: I have a sunroom in the back of my house that’s approximately – oh, approximately 30 feet long and about 13 feet wide. But what I want to do is divide this room …

    TOM: OK.

    MEL: … but I have tile on the floor and I don’t want to put something permanent in there that’s going to destroy those tiles.

    LESLIE: Mel, do you care about putting some sort of attachments into the ceiling?

    MEL: Well, it’s a slanted ceiling.

    TOM: Well, there’s a good website called Divider.com that has some very artistic, very stylish room dividers that attach to the floor or the ceiling via expandable poles; kind of like a planter pole or one of those lights that has sort of the springy, you know, part on it.

    LESLIE: And they would work great with a slanted ceiling because you could adjust the height as you sort of increase or decrease.

    MEL: Wow, that’s super.

    TOM: And they’re sold in plain, basic white; so you’re able to paint these, though, so they could look, actually, very, very stylish when you’re done. You could paint a pattern on it; you could paint it any shade you want. It’s a good option.

    MEL: Alright.

    TOM: The problem with most dividers out there is there’s a lot that are very industrial-looking.

    MEL: Right.

    TOM: Like when you see a room divider like for a school or something like that. And then there’s sort of the folding wall kind of thing that looks like sort of an accordion closet door.

    MEL: Yeah, I’ve seen – no, pass.

    TOM: You know? And those really are not really that attractive.

    MEL: No.

    LESLIE: Well, there are some decorative options with those ceiling-mounted or the top-of-the-door-jamb-mounted ones. A good website for that – although, because you have the slanted ceiling but a good website where you could see a good selection is IRoomDividers.com. There are a lot of ceiling-mounted options.

    MEL: I can’t tell you how glad I am that I called you guys. I think you solved a problem for me. You’re a genius. (Leslie chuckles)

    TOM: Well, thanks so much, Mel. We appreciate it.


    LESLIE: Glen in South Carolina has a question about insulation. What can we do for you today?

    GLEN: Hi, thanks for taking my call.

    I was wondering – I have the fiberglass blown insulation in my attic and I’m thinking about adding some more and I was thinking about adding cellulose-type insulation on top of that. Will that cause a problem with the r value or anything like that?

    TOM: Well, you can add different types of insulation on top of each other but, frankly, I would recommend against it. If you have fiberglass insulation now I would add more fiberglass insulation on top of it and I would use unfaced fiberglass insulation and I would install it perpendicular to the existing insulation. That will give you good coverage and you’re going to be looking for about 19 inches of batt insulation totally, on average, to give you good insulating value.

    GLEN: OK. Well, I do appreciate your help.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Glen. You know, there’s a good homeowner’s guide to insulating online at a website called InsulateandSave.com. It’s put together by the experts at Owens Corning. You might want to take a look at that and it’ll walk you through some of those steps.

    GLEN: OK, I’ll look at in a little while.

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

    LESLIE: Denise in Alaska, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    DENISE: Hi, I’m kind of pre-planning.

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    DENISE: Well, pre-planning with a post problem. I’ve had a sidewalk that looks like yuck for years because it’s about 20 years old.

    TOM: Alright.

    DENISE: It’s got big pit marks; you know, where the cement shavings kind of come up and it looks really ugly and it’s actually starting to be kind of a danger. And I’m trying to think – the girls and I thought we would try to do a sidewalk on our own next year –

    TOM: Alright.

    DENISE: – next spring.

    TOM: How old are the girls?

    DENISE: We’re all in our 40s. (chuckles)

    TOM: Alright – oh, it’s all the sisters, huh?

    DENISE: Well, yeah. We try to take on little projects that we think we probably could do, for the learning experience.

    TOM: I just was wondering if, when you said ‘the girls,’ you had a couple of kids who were going to help you; maybe your daughters or something. (laughs)

    DENISE: Oh, no, no, no. These are women.

    TOM: OK.

    DENISE: These are foolish women; foolish.

    TOM: Alright. (laughs)

    DENISE: Anyway, and so what I – (chuckles). What I’m wondering is now we’re planning ahead for next summer …

    TOM: Alright.

    DENISE: … to do this; because, of course, we’re in Alaska and you know – (groans). (Leslie chuckles) Anyway, so I’m wondering are we going to take those old pieces of cement out, dig everything up before we make the forms and do it all – can we make forms around what’s there; pour over?

    TOM: No, if you pour over it’s going to end up spawling because what will happen is – especially in your climate – you’ll get moisture between the old and the new concrete and it’ll break and it’ll crack off and you’ll have to repeat the whole process next year again.

    DENISE: (overlapping voices) Aw, shoot. (Leslie chuckles) I knew you would say that. (Leslie and Denise laugh)

    TOM: Yeah. So you’re going to have to break it out; you know, break up the old pieces and get it out. You’re going to have to build the forms.

    DENISE: Yep.

    TOM: And really, the care here and the time is to building those forms and making sure that they are letter perfect; nice and level, that you don’t pour too big of a piece, that you put dividers between the sections and have it all ready and good to go before you call the concrete truck in.


    TOM: And I can only imagine the look on that guy’s face when he shows up with that truckload of concrete – working with big, burly masons all day long – and sees you girls there ready to take the load. (laughs)

    DENISE: (overlapping voices) Yep. In our shorts and our sunglasses. Bring it on, buddy. (laughs)

    TOM: You’re going to make his day. (laughs)

    DENISE: Yeah, maybe so. Maybe that might be the bright spot, right?

    TOM: Alright. Well, good luck with that project.

    DENISE: Hey, thanks you guys. I listen to you all the time. You’re great.

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

    Girls taking on a concrete project there in Alaska.

    LESLIE: And you know when she says wearing shorts? It’s probably like in March. They get so happy when the weather turns even slightly that as soon as it’s like what you and I would consider freezing, Tom, they are in flip-flops and shorts because 40 is summer.

    TOM: Yeah, three weeks is all they get for spring and summer (chuckling); it’s back to winter again. (Leslie chuckles)

    LESLIE: Well, it is the holiday season and you’ve got list in hand and gift ideas. Well, what about a wonderful gift for the DIY enthusiast in your life? If you’re stuck and don’t even know where to begin, how about a power tool? We’ll give you all the shopping tips, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer and add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information visit ThermaTru.com.

    TOM: Welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and this is the time of year where you start making your lists; whether they’re for home improvement projects or for home improvement gifts or just gifts in general. And if you ask an avid DIY-er, they’re going to tell you that you can never have enough power tools in your shed, workshop, garage, wherever it is that you keep them; and in fact, I’ve always got my eye on one or two new tools and, this time of year, these new tools really make a great gift for that handy honey in your life or this could be a (clears throat) not-so-subtle hint to my husband. (Tom laughs) Ed, are you listening? (chuckles)

    TOM: Well, there are a lot of new developments in tool technology; especially coming out of the development — the great development minds from our friends at Ryobi Tools. And one of the new products coming out is an auto-shift drill. With us to talk about it is Jason Swanson, the director of communications.

    Jason, I miss my stickshift car, I’ve got to say.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) So you need it in your tools.

    TOM: I love the shifting up ability and how does this drill do just that?

    JASON: Oh, you have no idea. It’s amazing. As you walk up and down the aisles today at Home Depot, you look at all these drills that have a first and second speed. And what would you think if you could actually just take that off of the drill and you’re always running in optimum speed and then when you actually need that extra oomph or torque, it automatically downshifts and keeps on going without you even really recognizing that?

    TOM: That is a cool idea and let’s just …

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    TOM: Let’s talk about why you need multiple speeds on a drill because I think a lot of folks don’t realize this. Generally, why does a manufacturer put multiple speeds? What kinds of projects …?

    LESLIE: Because we need one more button to mess around with, on a tool, that says one and two.

    TOM: (chuckling) Besides that.

    JASON: That’s right.

    TOM: What kinds of projects would you be doing that would cause the desire to want to shift gears?

    JASON: Well, in most applications, you’re probably going to run in high speed but every once in a while, if you’re going to do like a hole saw – which is probably, say, a half-inch or a one-inch in diameter bit, you’re going to need that extra oomph to finish the job.

    TOM: Right.

    JASON: And if you’re going to fasten something – you know, like you’re building a deck and you’re going to put on your 4×4 post and you’re going to attach it to the house or the other existing frame – you’re going to need that extra oomph as well.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good example. Let’s say that you are both drilling and screwing at the same time with the same tool. So you would use high speed to drill the hole and then you would want to use a lower speed to actually drill it. But if you had an auto-shifter it would be great because you wouldn’t have to actually stop and shift the gears of the drill; it would do that for you based on the demand. Correct?

    JASON: You’re absolutely right. It takes the guesswork out of all the applications.

    LESLIE: So as I’m using my new autoshift drill, will I know that it’s shifting? Does it sort of make a different sound? Is there anything that indicates to me, the user, what’s going on?

    JASON: That’s a good question. On top of the drill you’re going to see a couple of indicators: one is for speed and that’s the gear it always runs in; and the other is for power and that’ll light up blue on the top. So you’ll always know and get a little peace of mind that it’s working correctly.

    TOM: That’s a very cool tool. So what’s it going to sell for?

    JASON: It’s $199 and it’s going to include two lithium ion batteries; one full-size, three amp hour – the mac daddy battery pack; and one compact, just in case you don’t have to carry around the extra weight but still want the advantages of lithium ion.

    TOM: Man, that’s a great deal. That’s a very cool product. Definitely love to get my hands on one this holiday season, so consider that a hint out to my wife. (Leslie chuckles) I tell you what, Leslie, you hint to Sue and I’ll hint to Ed and we’ll both come out on top.

    LESLIE: No problem.

    TOM: So what else is hitting the holiday stores this year from Ryobi, Jason?

    JASON: Well, you know the popular 18-volt One+ line of products that’s centered around a battery and its got a ton of tools that you can add to it?

    TOM: Yep.

    JASON: Well, we’re also going to do that with a 12-volt system.

    TOM: Oh, cool.

    JASON: So for those people that may not need the extra weight or power, we’ve got a lineup of tools just for those people.

    TOM: Now are those also going to be lithium ion-based batteries?

    JASON: Absolutely; only the best technology in these newer, later, green lithium ion tools.

    TOM: I love the lithium because they’re lighter weight, they charge faster and they hold the charge a lot longer.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) They’re super-fast, too, and they just feel great. They feel great in your hands. You know, for me, it was always the 18-volt was the power that I needed but the weight of it, especially after a full day on a job site or even just, you know, puttering around the house doing different projects, it gets really heavy. And so the lithium ion, for me, has just been so fantastic and I know the 12-volt – you know, I hate to sort of categorize women needing something smaller but for a lot of ladies who are just getting started in home improvement – you know, with this economy, a lot of people are doing projects themselves. So if you’re looking for something lighter weight and you’re gift sets or your combo kits really do make a wonderful starter set for anybody interested in doing projects themselves around the house.

    JASON: Oh, yeah. This thing is loaded with, you know, the super-compact drill; an ultra-compact little circular saw that’ll do up to one inch width-wise; and a great little hybrid saw that has jigsaw blades that acts like a recip saw.

    LESLIE: Interesting.

    TOM: Oh, great, great; so it can really get in tight spaces and it’s light and it’s easy to carry. That sounds like a great package. What’s that going to go for?

    JASON: That’s 149; in stores right now.

    LESLIE: Can you do like fun, tight, little decorative cuts?

    JASON: Yes, absolutely.

    LESLIE: Excellent.

    TOM: Oh, Jason, nothing we like better around here than talking power tools. Thanks so much for bringing us up to speed. (Leslie chuckles)

    JASON: My pleasure.

    TOM: Jason Swanson, Director of Communications for Ryobi with details on the new auto-shift 18-volt drill as well as the new 12-volt line coming out this holiday season. If you want more information you can head on over to their website at RyobiTools.com. You can pick up the phone and dial them up at 800-525-2579 and, of course, Ryobi Tools are available only at The Home Depot.

    LESLIE: Alright, Jason, it is officially on my Christmas wish list; so hopefully Santa will be dropping one down my chimney.

    Hey, if you’re looking to save money on your hot water bills, do not take a bath – especially this time of year – by wasting all of your money on excessive heating of the water in your house. Use that money for good stuff like buying your honey some tools. Gotcha. Use that money to get gifts.

    When we come back we’re going to tell you how to insulate the pipes in your house to save a ton of cash, so stick around.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. Choose the brand more building professionals prefer and add up to $24,000 to the perceived value of your home. For more information visit ThermaTru.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: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Not only will we answer your home improvement question but we will give you a prize. We will bribe you. (Leslie chuckles) We will help you with a tool to get the projects done around your house. And the tool this hour is the Styletto paintbrushes. They’re worth 20 bucks. It’s a very unique set of brushes. This brush actually really, truly gives you an edge for cutting-in in that precision painting project that you might have in mind. It’s designed in the shape of an arrow; a point, so to speak, so it cuts in perfectly around walls, ceilings, corners and mouldings. These brushes totally let you express your style with ease. You’ll get the painting projects done very, very quickly. You’ll need less masking tape and they’ll come out perfectly every, single time.

    If you want to win those, call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we choose at random this hour is going to get that set of brushes sent to their home.

    LESLIE: Now painting projects, they really are happy when the weather outside is a little bit chillier. But your water heater, it kind of likes to boost up your expenses with the falling temperatures outside. So we’ve got some tips to help you out with saving some money when it comes to your energy expenses.

    First of all, a water heater blanket; this is going to keep that water inside the heater super-duper-duper hot so it’s ready to go. The blankets themselves, they are very inexpensive and they could not be easier to install. Just like the name, it’s a blanket for your hot water heater. You can’t mess that up when you go to the home center.

    Now you can also make sure that your pipes are insulated and our friends over at Owens Corning, they especially recommend insulating the pipes in a crawlspace because those spaces can be very, very cold in the winter months. And when it gets really cold and freezing temperatures outside, those uninsulated pipes could even be in danger of freezing, bursting, breaking open and causing a giant disaster in your home.

    Now you can learn exactly how to insulate your crawlspace when you check out and download – make sure you download it – it’s the Homeowners Guide to Insulating and it’s available for free and right now you can get it at InsulateandSave.com. It’s a great website. It’s full of a lot of information to make sure that you save energy dollars and stay nice and toasty this heating season inside your house.

    TOM: InsulateandSave.com.

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those phones. Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Brenda in Colorado is dealing with an exterior siding situation. What’s going on at your house?

    BRENDA: Hi. We have a one-story ranch on a crawlspace that was built in the 70s and we want to replace the siding. And it has sheathing under the siding that’s like fiberboard but there was never any house wrap applied. And we’re wondering if when we reside, should we add house wrap and then, also, how do we deal with the windows? Do we take the windows out and put the siding there and then reinstall the windows or can we install the siding with the windows still in place?

    TOM: Alright, well first of all, you don’t have to pull your windows out.


    TOM: What kind of siding do you have right now?

    BRENDA: It’s a pressed fiberboard paneling type look (ph).

    TOM: Alright, so you want to take that out completely. And is there any sheathing underneath that?

    BRENDA: There is sheathing in most areas.

    TOM: Alright, what kind of siding – what kind of new siding do you want to put up?

    BRENDA: Well, we would like to put kind of what looks like clapboard …

    TOM and LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    BRENDA: … made probably from similar material; kind of that pressed composite.

    TOM: Well, here’s what I would recommend. First of all, you are going to need sheathing; so the areas where you don’t have sheathing you can simply add that. You would put a vapor barrier around it. You would put a building wrap like Tyvek or a product like that. Then above that, a good product to install is hardy plank, which is actually a cement-based siding product and it looks – well, it can look like a shingle; it can look like clapboard …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, it can look like clapboard.

    TOM: … and it’s totally indestructible. I mean it’s really good stuff.

    LESLIE: Excellent. Well, thank you. I really appreciate the information.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Brenda, and good luck with that project. Send us some pictures.

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Myrna in Utah has a problem with the gutter system on her money pit. What can we do for you?

    MYRNA: Hi. I don’t know if you’ve answered this for someone else but on a very long pipe – they are older pipes but they seem fine – but there’s a big hole in the one and I was wondering if we could just put some epoxy or glue or some way without replacing the whole gutter or do we have to replace the whole gutter?

    TOM: Are you talking about the leader, Myrna, or the gutter; the drainpipe off of the gutter or the gutter itself?

    MYRNA: The gutter itself.

    TOM: How did you get a hole in there? That’s kind of unusual. Did it wear? Is it sort of wear and tear or did something fall through it?

    MYRNA: I have no idea.

    TOM: Hmm.

    MYRNA: You know, because the rest of them are doing fine but …

    TOM: Is it an aluminum gutter?

    MYRNA: I think they’re steel.

    TOM: Yeah, well maybe they’re rusting.

    MYRNA: Yeah.

    TOM: Well, here’s what you can do. You can get a piece of gutter material; whether it’s steel or aluminum; you can get some asphalt roof cement and, using that as the adhesive – working from the inside – I want you to cover that hole with the piece of gutter material. So you’re going to create a patch here. And then what you’re going to do is you’re going to either use sheet metal screws or rivets to connect those two together. So think of it as sort of sewing a patch on some clothes …

    MYRNA: Oh, OK.

    TOM: … but you’re doing it from the inside and you’re attaching it using this asphalt roof cement. That will give you a watertight seal or you could use silicone caulk as the sealant as well; that’ll allow you to patch it and cover the hole and have it not leak anymore.

    LESLIE: Well, if you’ve ever wondered why the bathrooms in your home feel very moist, it’s because you don’t have the right ventilation. We’re going to tell you exactly what you need to do to tackle those moisture problems when we jump into our e-mail bag, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional-feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi Power Tools. Pro features. Affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. 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 and if you’ve got a question or if you’ve got a problem but you’re just feeling too shy to call in and get the Team Money Pit advice that you so need, go online; head over to MoneyPit.com; click on the Ask Tom and Leslie icon and we can help you when we jump into our e-mail bag. And we’ve got some questions online today. I’ve got one from Josh who writes from Paw Paw, Michigan – I love the name of that town; Paw Paw – and he writes: ‘In my bathroom I have been having some problems with what looks like drips on the wall. Now these drips are sometimes a yellowish color and more noticeable after a shower. Is this a venting problem?’

    TOM: Yeah. What’s happening is the water is condensing on the cooler walls after the shower. A couple of things you can do there.

    First of all, you need to get better ventilation. You might want to look into one of the high-tech vent fans. I know Panasonic has got one out now that runs off a motion …

    LESLIE: Broan has great ones.

    TOM: … off a motion detector. It’s got a timer on it so it actually will run for either anywhere from 30 seconds up to 60 minutes after you’re done using that bathroom. You can kind of keep the fan on and that will pull that moisture out. And that actually will solve that problem.

    The other thing is that you may have a hard water situation and, if you do, you might need a water softener. One that we can recommend is made by one of the sponsors of this program; it’s called EasyWater. I put one in the house; had a very severe hard water problem. Problem went away as soon as we turned this thing on and it didn’t require any plumbing work; so a good product. And those two will definitely solve that situation.

    LESLIE: Alright, Leo in Vermont writes: ‘Now that it is winter, last year we had severe ice damming on our roofs. I don’t want this to happen again. It caused a lot of leaks. What can I do to prevent this?’

    TOM: Ah, ice dams. Well, they are going to happen when weather conditions are such that you get a big snowfall, ice that freezes at the overhang and then a snow melt where the water pushes down, hits that dam and backs up into the house. The solution is something called Ice & Water Shield. In order to install it you have to pull off the shingles along the first three feet of the roof edge but, believe me, it’s not that difficult. You can disassemble the roof, add the Ice & Water Shield, put it back together and you will be leak-free this winter.

    LESLIE: Yeah, Leo. You know, we’ve used this stuff in many applications before. You can drive nails right through it. It seals around the nail itself. You will not get a leak. So do this project and be dry this winter.

    TOM: Well, it’s certainly getting cold enough for relaxing with the family by a roaring fire but before you get those embers crackling you want to make sure you have enough maintenance performed on that system. Leslie’s got those tips in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Yeah, when it comes to your fireplace, it is crucial to inspect your flue, the damper and the firebox of your chimney because a buildup of creosote, that can lead to a very dangerous fire. And the creosote builds up just by normal usage of your fireplace, depending on what kind of lumber you use, and it really does need to be removed and cleaned from your fireplace annually.

    And if you don’t already have those chimney caps you should get them because you can get wildlife all down your chimney and, believe me, when we first bought our house there was no cap on our chimney; I had the flue closed – it was the summertime – and I heard this incessant screeching and scratching and, of course, it was coming from the fireplace. And after a visit from Animal Control we had a squirrel rescued nice and safely from our fireplace and a cage was put on top with a little cap and a cage system, so we never had an unwanted visitor down our chimney again. Now Santa, he’s magic; he can fit down any way he wants, regardless of those caps.

    If you’re looking for somebody to do a great job and be certified, which is exactly what you want when it comes to maintenance of your chimney, go to a website for the Chimney Safety Institute of America – the website is CSIA.org – and you’ll find somebody who can do the job right at the right price.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The show continues online at MoneyPit.com. And coming up next week on the program we’re going to have some tips to keep your appliances running properly, including your refrigerator. It is the time of year when that is an appliance that gets a major workout with all the holiday entertaining we’re doing. We’ll have those tips next week on the program. 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 2008 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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