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Home Improvement Tips & Advice

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    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.)

    BEGIN HOUR 1 TEXT:

    (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 right now with your home improvement question. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Because, as luck would have it, that’s what we do. (Leslie chuckles) We answer them. 888-666-3974. So, if you are standing in water up to your knees and wondering what you should do, call a plumber. But for less dramatic home improvement questions, call us right now. We are here to help you get the job done. We’re here to help inspire you; to inform you; to teach you; to coach you through those home improvement projects.

    We have an action-packed show planned for you today. First up, we’re going to talk about bathroom makeovers. You know, if you’ve got an old, worn bathtub or bathroom and it’s really dragging down the look of the entire house and, say, a total makeover is not in the budget, we’re going to have some tips to help you take care of that old bathroom makeover but on the cheap. Learn more in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Ah. And since things do tend to wear out in the bath – specifically, the tub – we are going to be telling you about some other things in the house that tend to wear out as well: appliances. If you think your appliance has seen better days, do you think ‘Hmm, maybe I should call a repairman’ or do you think it might just be cheaper to replace your washing machine or that dishwasher? Well, we’re going to tell you what you should do about that later on this hour.

    TOM: And we’re going to save you some money on your heating system because I am sure that you’re all suffering from leaky wallet disease right now because the bills have been so darn high. We’re going to give you some tips to help tune up that efficiency.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, we’re giving away a great prize. It’s the Orion Cooker. It’s worth 149 bucks. It’s only going to one lucky caller this hour and it’s kind of an interesting cooking device. It’s not quite a barbecue grill but it’s more than just a conventional smoker. It’s really interesting and Tom used it on his Thanksgiving turkey, which I hear was a major success.

    TOM: Big time.

    LESLIE: It’s awesome. It cooks fast. I mean it’s really kind of unique.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s a convection – charcoal-fired convection oven is what it is and I’ve got to tell you, the turkey was falling off the bone. So call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to the phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Peter in New York, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we help you with?

    PETER: Yes, I have asbestos on the rear of my house. They’re about 12 inches high and about 24 inches wide.

    TOM: OK.

    PETER: And I can’t find, at any of the rental places, a cutter. I know there’s an asbestos cutter. I’ve never seen one but I know there’s one out there.

    TOM: Yeah.

    PETER: So, but I can’t locate one. So, they told me I can cut it with a circular saw with a plywood blade on it.

    TOM: Right.

    PETER: But I keep burning out the blade. I can’t make the corner cuts. And there’s a lot of smoke.

    TOM: Right.

    PETER: Dust, I should say.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well, these are cement asbestos shingles, correct?

    PETER: Yes.

    TOM: Why do you need to cut them? What kind of a job are you doing?

    PETER: Oh, well we’re taking out the windows. In the rear, we’re changing the windows.

    TOM: OK.

    PETER: And then we want to put them back but naturally we have a different shape to the building now.

    TOM: Right.

    PETER: So, I want to put them back and naturally they were painted a few years ago and it all blends.

    TOM: Yeah, well you’re absolutely right. There is an asbestos tile shear that is used specifically to cut tiles.

    PETER: Yes.

    TOM: And it kind of, you know, kind of scores them and breaks them, I guess would be the best way to explain it. And it’s something that you typically do find at a rental house and if you can’t locate it your option would be probably …

    LESLIE: What about a stone blade?

    TOM: Well …

    LESLIE: Like a masonry blade? Since it’s encased in cement, essentially.

    TOM: Yeah, that probably would work but you need to use a full respirator …

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: … so you’re completely isolated from this because you’re going to be stirring up that dust and breathing and it’s really, really bad for you.

    PETER: I know, it’s happened already. Yes.

    TOM: OK?

    PETER: My only problem with the saw, I tried that saw. But unless you really hold this asbestos down, you’ll crack them. At least I cracked them, let’s put it that way.

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: You might find that it’s easier to put a plywood blade or a stone blade on a table saw. If you had a table saw.

    PETER: Oh, (INAUDIBLE).

    TOM: You wouldn’t be holding on to a circular saw. Then you don’t have to worry about holding them down and …

    LESLIE: And then you know your cut’s straight.

    TOM: … the guard back. You can really have both hands to use to move the material.

    PETER: Oh, no. Very good. (Leslie chuckles) I’m glad I called.

    TOM: Alright.

    PETER: OK, thank you for your time.

    TOM: They always sound so surprised when you come up with a good idea, Leslie. (Tom and Leslie chuckle) I don’t know why that is.

    888-666-3974. Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Mary in Illinois needs some help cleaning the kitchen counter. What’s going on? Tell us about it?

    MARY: What I found is floor tiles, ceramic floor tiles, but I would like to use it for my kitchen countertop.

    LESLIE: OK.

    MARY: It’s just a really lovely tile.

    LESLIE: Is it sealed?

    MARY: Yes.

    LESLIE: OK.

    MARY: And a friend told me that you can disinfect the tile but you couldn’t disinfect the grout. And for use in the kitchen I – you know, I just wondered is this practical to use floor tile for countertop.

    TOM: Sure, why not?

    LESLIE: I mean, yeah. Tile is used all the time in a countertop situation. I think it’s important to seal that grout. Number one, you’re going to prevent dirt and bacteria from getting in there and it’s also going to make your cleaning process a lot easier. So I say go for it. It’ll make a really nice project and something that you can easily do yourself.

    MARY: And the seams would be the same as it would be on a floor or can you make them more narrow?

    TOM: Well, if you’re going to use a floor tile you’re going to have a wider joint …

    MARY: Yes.

    TOM: … and, in that case, I think, Leslie, what she might be talking about is the difference between sand grout and non-sanded grout.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. How large are these tiles? Are they 12-inch squares; 16?

    MARY: They’re 12-inch.

    LESLIE: They’re 12-inch square. Usually, on a floor situation, you’re going to have a wider grout line, which means you’re going to use a sanded grout to accommodate more space. I say go ahead and make them much more close together and go ahead and use a non-sanded because then it’ll fill in more nicely in those narrow spaces and then do seal that grout.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely seal it. You’ll wan to use a silicone-based sealer, Mary, and do it right away because this way it won’t have a chance to get dirty.

    MARY: OK, that sounds great. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned in to The Money Pit and the holidays are just days away and you are running out of time to get your house in tiptop shape, but that’s what we’re here for. We can help, so call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even Christmas at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, don’t throw out that worn bathtub with the bathwater! (Leslie chuckles) Refinish it instead. Learn how, after this.

    (promo/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, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And we are here to put the ho-ho in home improvement, so pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Because we’re going to make your holiday time just a bit nicer. If you are the one caller that we draw out of the Money Pit hardhat of this hour’s calls you could win the Orion Cooker worth 149 bucks. It’s a new way to cook your holiday meals. It combines convection, steam and smoke and I used it on my Thanksgiving turkey and it worked fabulously.

    LESLIE: And your turkey took – what? – two-and-a-half hours and mine took six?

    TOM: Yeah, something like that. (Leslie chuckles) My cooker was a much more green way to cook it. We just wasted a little charcoal. We didn’t go burning fossil fuel.

    LESLIE: Agh! Nice to make me feel bad.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. We can send that cooker to you if you are the caller who we draw out of the Money Pit hardhat this hour. So pick up the phone and give us a ring.

    LESLIE: Alright, well we all know the kitchen, it’s the holidays; you’re spending a lot of time in there and it could be the biggest return on investment when you’re doing a remodel in your house. But a bathroom also can really add major value to your home and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either in the remodeling process. Just some new paint, some new fixtures, even accessories like some big, fluffy towels and some gorgeous new colors and you’ve got a great, new look. Except for that tub.

    TOM: Hmm.

    LESLIE: Aw, the problem of the tub. It’s a big fixture. It costs a lot of money. And if yours has seen better days, you should consider refinishing it because a pro can come in and refinish a damaged, old or even an out-of-date bathtub at a fraction of what you’re going to pay for a brand, spanking new one. Plus, you are not going to get soaked by the added cost of – think about it – replacing your pipes; the hardware; any damage you have to do to the wall and the floor during any demolition; and all that work to put in the new tub. It really is a cost-effective way to make that bath sparkle.

    TOM: Cheap tricks for chic bathrooms. There you have it. 888-666-3974 is the telephone number. Give us a call right now if you need some home improvement advice; some bathroom remodeling advice; some kitchen remodeling advice; or if you just want to talk.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Eric in Mississippi is working on a shower project. What can we help you with?

    ERIC: Yeah, I’m working on a shower pan and I’m looking for what type of concrete to use on top of the underlayment. I got the PVC underlayment underneath and then I’m going to have to pour another inch or inch-and-a-half of concrete on top of that.

    TOM: OK.

    ERIC: And what would be the best type of concrete to use?

    TOM: Eric, typically you would use normal concrete to pour a shower pan, but keep in mind that concrete’s probably not the best surface for shower pans and tubs and things like that only because the water will eventually erode it and also just the day-to-day use of grime and so on is going to get in there; it’s going to look kind of dirty. But if you want to do it, typically it’s regular concrete and has to slope about a quarter of an inch per foot in towards the drain. And the second thing is to make sure you reinforce it, so you need to put some wire mesh reinforcing embedded into it so it doesn’t crack on you.

    ERIC: OK, yeah I’ll be placing tile on top of this.

    TOM: Oh, OK. Well then, basically, you’re just talking about a mud base under the tile.

    ERIC: Exactly.

    TOM: In that case, it should be fine.

    LESLIE: Because there are opportunities where folks have done, you know, a high-design bath where they’ve completely poured the shower pan out of concrete and it’s doable but it does require a lot of attention paid to it.

    TOM: Yep.

    ERIC: Just a standard 3:1 mix?

    TOM: Standard, yep.

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

    LESLIE: Eddie in New Jersey has a cleaning problem. What can we help you with? How can we help?

    EDDIE: I have some natural stone in my house. I have marble and I also have something called (INAUDIBLE) tile.

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    EDDIE: And I just want to know what’s the best way to clean it because my kids spill a lot of like acidy – like iced tea and like orange juice and stuff like that and we have a hard time getting it off.

    TOM: A good product to use to clean the floor is a product called Marbalex. It’s a concentrated stone floor cleaner. There’s a good website to check out. It’s called Stonecare.com. They have a lot of very specialized cleaning products for natural stone. And then once you get it cleaned, then you need to seal it and this is something you have to do from time to time because it’s a fairly porous material. Even though it’s incredibly durable it is porous and so just from day to day use it’s going to get dirty. But use Marbalex to clean it and then you can seal it.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    EDDIE: OK, we did seal it initially when we put the tile. That was about two years ago.

    TOM: Right.

    EDDIE: How often do you think we need to seal that?

    TOM: Probably every one to two years, depending on, you know, what the wear and tear is on it.

    LESLIE: What the traffic is, yeah.

    TOM: Yeah, what the traffic is.

    EDDIE: Got you. OK.

    Hey, thank you very much.

    TOM: Alright. You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: Judith in South Carolina has a question about mildew. What can we help you with?

    JUDITH: Hi. I was wondering about mildew in the venting. We have a heat pump; 16-year-old house; coastal area. So we have a lot of humidity.

    TOM: OK.

    JUDITH: And we had the vents cleared, oh about a year ago and we seem to have a lot of dust. So when he did that he said that he saw a bit of mold, mildew back in one area so he would spray for that and that should help control that. We did notice, in our bedroom in the closet more indication of that. We took the vent cover off and it had mold or mildew on it and so we used alcohol. We’re kind of leery about using a Clorox-based solution to clean the inside of a vent that we could see. But really, what should we do? Because obviously it’s like an artery. If you’re carotid artery is clogged you know the rest of the system has some problems. (Tom and Leslie chuckle)

    LESLIE: True.

    TOM: And you’ve had the ducts cleaned?

    JUDITH: We did.

    TOM: OK.

    JUDITH: And you know, I think it blew a beer can out and some dust and a bit of that. But that’s all that we saw.

    TOM: Well, you have to remember that with the metal ducts you’re not going to have mold grow on the ducts because it’s – they’re not organic. But what does …

    LESLIE: It’s going to grow on the dust.

    TOM: It’ll grow on the dust. Exactly. So, cleaning the dust – cleaning the ducts and cleaning the dust off the ducts is the best way to get rid of that.

    The other thing that I would suggest is to put in a high-quality electronic air cleaner like an Aprilaire electronic air cleaner. I think it’s Model 5000, which is incredibly efficient; even picks up virus-sized particles. But in terms of cleaning that, generally we recommend a bleach and water solution. I don’t know why you’re hesitant to use that but, you know, simply – I would say about two parts, three parts bleach to about seven or eight parts water. It’s going to do a good job at killing any mold spores that are left behind or any mildew that’s left behind in that area. So if you see it, I would just spray it down and wipe it out and put in a good-quality electronic air cleaner. That will keep it clean all year long.

    JUDITH: OK. We do run – when we built the house we were advised that we would need a humidifier.

    TOM: OK.

    JUDITH: That we – we really do find we do need it or else we have problems with noses and throats …

    TOM: Right.

    JUDITH: … and everything. But we just use a small cool-air vaporizer that we used for our children when they were growing up.

    TOM: OK.

    JUDITH: And so we do put some moisture into the air, but not a lot, during the wintertime.

    TOM: OK.

    JUDITH: Do you think that’s exacerbating the problem?

    TOM: Not at all. Nope, not at all. What I would suggest you do is put on a good-quality electronic air cleaner and just scrub the air. You will see a marked difference in the quality of the air in the house if you put on a good-quality electronic air cleaner.

    LESLIE: And you’ll also notice you’re feeling better.

    JUDITH: Right, OK. And you recommended this Aprilaire 5000?

    TOM: Aprilaire. Yep, Aprilaire Model 5000. Good unit; not too expensive; can be installed by your local heating and cooling contractor.

    JUDITH: OK, and that’s where I should start …

    TOM: Yep, absolutely.

    JUDITH: … looking for that?

    TOM: Yes, call your local heating contractor. Ask for the Aprilaire. Their website is Aprilaire.com. You can read more about it there.

    LESLIE: Margaret in Colorado is thinking about remodeling the bath, which is a great choice. It offers an excellent return on investment. How can we help you with the project?

    MARGARET: I have a small bathroom downstairs and it has – it’s a bi-level and it’s a cement floor. Over that was tile composition and I had white linoleum laid over that a year ago. And when the linoleum was put down the toilet was cracked in the back, which I didn’t notice, and so it leaked underneath the white linoleum and that has all turned black around the toilet. So what I’m wondering is if I could just put tile over top of that linoleum instead of pulling it out …

    TOM: Has the toilet been repaired?

    MARGARET: Oh, yes. I had a new toilet put in.

    TOM: OK, then what I would suggest is – can you put tile on top of the linoleum? Probably not because it’s not going to adhere very well.

    MARGARET: Oh.

    TOM: But what you could put there is laminate floor and laminate floor stands up very, very well to moisture and there are laminate floor patterns that look like tile, look like stone or they could look like wood; whatever pattern you like. But the stuff’s incredibly durable and very moisture resistant.

    MARGARET: OK. It’s called laminate?

    TOM: Laminate floor. Think like the laminate countertops that you used to see years ago …

    MARGARET: OK.

    TOM: … except the laminate on this floor is like 20 times tougher than the laminate that was on a countertop ever was.

    MARGARET: OK.

    TOM: The laminate floors were actually tested. There’s a test called a taber abrasion test where they spin an abrasive disk into the laminate and determine how tough it is and when you compare a laminate floor to a laminate countertop the laminate floor is 20 times thicker and tougher than the laminate countertop and it holds up really well under water as well.

    MARGARET: So I could put that then on top of my linoleum?

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Yes, they are floating floors. They don’t have to even be nailed down. They just need some moulding around the edge and they look great and they all lock together so they’re pretty easy to put together as well.

    MARGARET: Now, do I have to take the toilet up again?

    TOM: It’s the best way to do it. Yes.

    MARGARET: Yeah?

    TOM: It is the best way to do it. You could floor around it but I’d recommend against it. I would recommend taking the toilet up and extending the flange up the quarter-inch or so additional thickness that the floor will take up and then put it back down. That will give you the cleanest, best-looking installation and the least chance of any leakage.

    MARGARET: OK. Well, thank you very, very much.

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

    LESLIE: This is The Money Pit.

    Did you ever notice how your dishwasher usually starts acting funny right around the time, you know, when it’s busiest or, in fact, when your warranty expires? Well, up next, we are going to tell you when you should repair or when you should just flat replace your aging appliances, so stick around.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by – well, by us. Get a $1,000 guarantee that the contractor you hire gets the job done right with your new Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership. And get $50 in Zircon tools if you join in the next 30 minutes. Call now. 866-REAL-HOME. That’s 866-REAL-HOME. Now here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. And the question is to repair or replace. That …

    LESLIE: That is the question. (chuckles)

    TOM: That is the question. What should you do if your appliance’s warranty has just expired and it needs a repair?

    When it comes to a major repair or replacement age is the biggest factor. For example, if your refrigerator is near it’s 15-year life expectancy, replacement is the way to go. For a newer appliance updated parts, new door seals and other types of adjustments are reasonable investments. But if your warranty is still good it’s always a good idea to do the repair. If it’s not, then you really have to determine what the return on investment is. To do that, we created a chart which you will find on MoneyPit.com called Repair or Replace that will tell you how much you should be spending on a repair for an appliance based upon its age. It’s handy and it’s accessible for free at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And you know, warranties, I always feel, are like the tricky, slippery slope. You know, you’re paying for this appliance, whatever it is – stereo equipment, computer, refrigerator – at the store; you’re trying to get out of there and then all of a sudden salesman is like, ‘Hey, warranty. X amount of dollars’ and you almost feel pressured into taking it. But it is a tough call and the retailers are really the ones who are counting on these add-on warranties to bump up their profits; especially this time of year which it’s all about the bottom line. But in our very next e-newsletter we’re going to spell it out for you and tell you exactly when to splurge on this warranty and when to say no thanks. You don’t always have to get it.

    If you want some info you should sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter at MoneyPit.com. It’s filled with great information that’s going to save you money, save you energy dollars and help you get the projects done in a good amount of time and keep you happy.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Taking a call from Ken in Oklahoma who’s dealing with a saggy wall. Where is it? What’s happening? What are you seeing?

    KEN: Well, I bought an older house; my wife and I. And one of the interior walls that runs from the front to the deck of the house has about three-and-a-half inches of sag. I assume it’s from settling and it’s something that we didn’t notice because when we looked at the house there was furniture and stuff in it and it kind of hid the sloping of the floor.

    LESLIE: Is the floor sloping or is the wall sort of gaping out, I guess is the word?

    KEN: No, it’s – the floor is sloping towards where it’s – the low spot.

    TOM: OK, and what is the floor made out of?

    KEN: It’s a wood floor.

    TOM: It’s a wood floor. And how old is the house, Ken?

    KEN: Probably about 70, 80 years old.

    TOM: Alright. Well, a sloping wood floor in an 80-year-old house is not all that unusual. The area that has to be inspected is under the floor and so you need to get under the floor and have a look and see what’s causing this. Now, if it’s a sagging girder or if it’s a split floor joist or something of that nature, that can be easily fixed. But what is below this floor? Is it a crawlspace? A basement? What?

    KEN: It’s a crawlspace.

    TOM: OK. So, what you’ve got to do here is an inspection of the crawlspace and if you don’t want to do this you could hire a home inspector to do it. But you need to try to determine where this low part is in the floor and then look at the floor structure and determine why it’s sagging. Now, it could very well be that it’s just sagged over the 70 or 80-year-old lifespan of this house and that’s not all that unusual and you know, I would kind of credit that to charm. You know, I wouldn’t necessarily think that you need to do any fixing there. But if it turns out that there’s a rotted beam or there’s termite damage or something of that nature then it might have to be addressed.

    KEN: Because I hadn’t noticed any damage. I’ve been under there a couple times because we added a second bathroom.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    KEN: But it’s just – right where that walls at is where the rooms surrounding it slope toward that; especially right in the middle between the living room and the dining room.

    TOM: Is there a girder under that area?

    KEN: Yes, there is.

    TOM: Well, the girder is sagged then. You know, this may be beyond your expertise to check and determine what’s going on. I might suggest that you hire a home inspector to have a look.

    KEN: OK.

    TOM: Did you have an inspection done when you bought the house?

    KEN: No, we didn’t.

    LESLIE: Hmm.

    TOM: Hmm. Yeah, well that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do …

    KEN: Yeah.

    TOM: … because a home inspector may have picked this up. But you know, listen, call one in now and get a second opinion. Not a contractor because a home inspector’s not going to sell you anything here. We don’t want a contractor to come in and sell a repair you don’t need. So hire a home inspector. You can go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors. It’s a not-for-profit organization that tests and certifies home inspectors at ASHI.org. Put in your zip code. They’ll give you a list of certified ASHI inspectors in your area. Pick one from that list and let them take a look. Find out what’s going on then you’ll know what to do about it.

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

    KEN: Thank you.

    LESLIE: We’re going to talk to Fig in Illinois who’s dealing with a wet garage floor. Tell us what’s going on.

    FIG: When the winter came to spring and temperatures went warm, my garage floor – I have a nice, concrete floor but it just turned into what seemed like a sponge because it was so wet. And I didn’t know if there’s something that I can do to help that moisture from coming up through the ground or if that’s non-fixable or what I’m looking at.

    LESLIE: Now, did you notice the floor would become very wet after, say, a rainfall or did this occur after the snow was melting?

    FIG: It seems to be temperature change; not rainfall.

    TOM: Well, it probably is somewhat associated with moisture because concrete is very hydroscopic. In other words, it soaks up water very, very easily. And typically what happens, if you get a lot of water that collects at the foundation perimeter of your house, then what happens is that will get drawn up into that slab and it becomes very, very damp.

    So the solution, therefore, is to try to look at the drainage issues that are around your house, Fig. I would start with the gutter system to make sure that the soil at the sides of the garage and even around that area have – make sure that the gutter system is extended out away from the foundation perimeter. Secondly, I would make sure that it’s clean.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Then thirdly I would add some soil and slope it away from the walls. Those three things working together will keep that area as dry as possible and that will reduce the chance that moisture’s going to be drawn up into that slab.

    LESLIE: Well, and also I think with garages a lot of people think if – especially if it’s a free-standing garage – that you don’t have to have gutters on it. But if you’re dealing with a lot of moisture there you should go ahead and install some gutters and make sure those downspouts deposit the water, you know, far away from the garage; you know, maybe three feet or so away.

    TOM: And beyond that, I would suggest also painting the garage floor with an epoxy paint; a two-part epoxy. QUIKRETE makes a good one. Basically, you mix the two parts together and so it’s a chemical cure and doing so is going to reduce the amount of moisture that sort of gets drawn through to the surface of the floor.

    FIG: Alrighty. Yeah, it is a free-standing one and I don’t believe there’s any gutters around it, so …

    TOM: Well, there you have it.

    FIG: Yeah. Alrighty. Well, thank you very much.

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

    Well, OK. When the temperatures go down and your thermostat usually goes up, so does your heating bill. Up next, we’re going to tell you what the U.S. Department of Energy says is the best way to keep those heating dollars from flying right out the door.

    (promo/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, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we hold the nail for you. (Leslie chuckles) Well, figuratively speaking because we’ve seen you swing a hammer.

    LESLIE: (laughing) That’s pretty funny, Tom. (Tom chuckles)

    Alright, folks. When you stop laughing pick up the phone and give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT because one caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the coolest holiday helper. It is the Orion Cooker. You don’t just have to use it this time of year. You can use it all year round. It’s worth 149 bucks and it is the coolest, fastest, most succulent cooker in the land. It combines convection, steam and smoke and it really does cook amazingly great meals in a super-quick amount of time. For example, it cooked Tom’s 20-pound turkey in a little over two hours, whereas it took mine six in a traditional oven.

    TOM: And it was de-lish.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and I bet mine wasn’t nearly as juicy as yours, you punk.

    TOM: Well, it was the natural gas fumes that (Leslie laughs) kind of affected the flavor with yours. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Hey, leave me alone. It’s all I’ve got and my turkey was still good. But this Orion Cooker really kicks butt. So call us now, ask your home improvement question on the air at 888-MONEY-PIT for your chance to win this really awesome prize.

    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the telephone number.

    Alright, let’s talk about energy efficiency. According to the Department of Energy, home insulation, an efficient and properly maintained heating system and a reasonable thermostat setting is a great combination. Together they can cut your annual heating bill by one-half. One-half! You should keep the thermostat at a couple of consistent settings for the whole heating season. A clock setback thermostat will definitely help. You want to keep it around 68 degrees when you’re home and down to about 62 or 64 while you are sleeping and tucked under those warm covers. No need to heat the entire house when you are under the blanket. And remember that if you have a heat pump, which many of us do, you need a clock setback thermostat designed specifically for the heat pump system because if you don’t have it you will force the system to run in its electric resistance mode which is super-expensive. So make sure you get a clock setback thermostat that’s designed for a heat pump.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and you know, those temperatures, you know, they sound low but they’re really ideal, especially if you go around your house and you get rid of all of those air leaks everywhere including insulating your attic, your walls and even replacing weatherstripping around windows and doors and even think about replacing existing windows and doors with insulated ones if you don’t already have them and you’ve got some extra money. And do it before the end of this year because you could still qualify for that federal tax credit.

    TOM: Yeah, good point. And speaking of replacing windows and doors, make sure you take the extra step of flashing them. Use a good, self-adhered, premium flashing around them; not just the aluminum flashing of years ago. Make sure you use one of these high-tech products like – we like Grace Vycor Plus which is a very flexible, high-tech membrane that seals the windows and the doors from air and moisture infiltration. And these things working together can really, really lower those heating bills.

    If you want more tips on how you can cut drafts and efficiently heat your home, visit Grace’s website at GraceAtHome.com or pick up the phone right now and call us with your energy efficiency question at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Betty in Michigan is removing some ceramic tile. Usually we get questions about putting it on but Betty wants to take it off. What’s going on at your money pit?

    BETTY: Yes, I have tiling. I’d like to remove it. Twelve-by-twelve measurements and it’s small squares. I’d like to remove it and it’s on plastered walls. How can I do this without damaging the plaster behind it?

    TOM: Boy, that’s a tough one. Yeah, that’s a difficult one. Is this a bathroom?

    BETTY: Yes.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s very hard to do because it may not be on plaster walls. It might be on a mud base. Did you ever consider that? That …

    BETTY: No, it’s plastered. The house has been given a first coat of plaster and a second coat of plaster.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: And then the tile was put on top of that.

    BETTY: And then the tile was put on that and I don’t want to do something to damage it.

    TOM: Well, you’re very, very likely going to damage the plaster and have to put on a third coat of plaster …

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: … if you try to take that off.

    BETTY: Oh, no.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Because generally you’re going to want to break up the grout and then you’re going to want to get some sort of chisel item behind the tile and tap it down …

    BETTY: Right.

    LESLIE: … and then pop it off, but …

    TOM: And I’m sure it was adhered to the old plaster wall which is very porous.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Which is super porous.

    TOM: So …

    BETTY: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … you’re definitely going to end up pulling off some of that plaster work at the same time, Betty, and you’re going to have to replace it or repair it.

    BETTY: You are tuned in to The Money Pit and hey, I just did a great project in my home. I installed French doors into my living room out to my screened-in porch and it really is so beautiful. So if you are looking for a way to add light, create a really elegant atmosphere in any room – whether it’s your dining room, your kitchen or your living room – French doors are the trick. But how do you choose the right ones for your home? We’re going to help you figure it out of course, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is being brought to you by – well, by us. Save hundreds a month on groceries, not to mention significant savings on home improvement products and services with your new Money Pit American Homeowners Association membership. And get $50 in Zircon tools if you join in the next 30 minutes. Call now. 866-REAL-HOME. That’s 866-REAL-HOME. Now here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we love plywood just as much as you do. (Leslie giggles) Well, perhaps even more. (chuckling) Because that’s what we do. We’re all about home improvement. We’re here to help you get the job done. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT or head on over to our website at MoneyPit.com. There you will find quick and easy ways to save money on your energy bills, including this tip.

    Insulate your water heater with a blanket. We’re not talking about the afghan your mother made (Leslie chuckles), mind you; although, that could be a good place to put it.

    LESLIE: (laughing) It’s a good use for it.

    TOM: Yeah. You know, if your mother-in-law is looking for the afghan that she made just tell her it’s in the basement; stored away, but put to good use on your water heater. (chuckling)

    No, seriously. You could put a fiberglass water heater blanket around or, better yet, if it’s time to replace that water heater, put in a high-efficiency electric water heater and also hook it up to a timer so that it only runs when you absolutely have to have it, which is generally only about eight to ten hours a day. You don’t need to run it 24/7.

    Hey, if you want more tips on how you can make your water heater and other appliances more efficient, go to our website at MoneyPit.com and click on the repair and improve section.

    LESLIE: And you know what? While you’re snooping around MoneyPit.com, if you’ve got a question you’ve just got to get off your chest right at that moment, go ahead and click on Ask Tom and Leslie and we will answer your e-mail question just like we do every hour of the show at this point and here we go right into the e-mail bag.

    We’ve got one here from Robin in Plymouth, Massachusetts who writes: ‘I have an induction cooktop. I had a guest come to visit and they used a granite-wear pot – which is a thin, metal enamel – to boil a chicken. It fused to the cooktop, leaving a residue and, in addition, flakes of the glass chipped out of the glass top in quarter-sized circles.’

    TOM: Wow.

    LESLIE: ‘Should this have happened? How can I fix it? Is it safe to use now since it uses magnetism instead of a radiant heating element?’

    TOM: Well, absolutely. I mean first of all, I think we should say that we are pretty much big fans of induction cookware. We’ve had a chance to use induction cooktops …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … and what’s fascinating about them is because they do heat with magnetism and not electricity you can have a pan boiling water on a burner and literally touch that burner with your hand and it’s not hot.

    LESLIE: And you won’t even feel it.

    TOM: It’s amazing. We did a TV show once where we had a stick of butter right next to a boiling pan full of water and the butter didn’t melt for like seven hours. But we had it sitting there.

    LESLIE: Yeah. I mean it finally got soft …

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: … after like seven-and-a-half hours, but they …

    TOM: Just from room temperature. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: They really are an amazing cooking system. It’s just you have to use very specific cookware when you’re using an induction cooktop. Basically, if a magnet’s going to stick to the bottom of your cookware, that’s the type of cookware you want to use on it.

    TOM: Yeah, what I did to try to get some information on this is we turned to the experts at GE who make some of the best induction cookware out there and they tell me that when you use a very thin metal pan with enamel coating what can happen is the pan heats up so quickly that the enamel could actually liquefy and almost act like an adhesive …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … and that’s what happened here. It glued the pan right to the top and then when it was separated it lifted off some pieces of glass with it. So, Robin, in your case, you’re going to need to have that glass top replaced. But the thing here is to make sure that if you’re going to use cookware on an induction cooktop that the cookware is rated for induction cooking. The same way that you can’t put metal bowls in a microwave there are certain products that you cannot put on an induction cooktop.

    LESLIE: Yeah, I say replace that glass; still use your induction cooktop. Be really happy with it because they are fantastic cook ranges.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. The conversation continues on our website at MoneyPit.com. And hey, while you’re there, you can sign up for our podcast. You know, some radio shows think you should have to pay for downloads. Not us. It’s free. That’s right. It’s free at MoneyPit.com. So, what can you do? Well, you can listen to any part of the show that you missed, you can also review our transcripts and you can get the information that you need to tackle your home improvement projects 24 hours a day, seven days a week and you can also call us 24/7 at MoneyPit.com.

    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.

    (theme song)

    END HOUR 1 TEXT

    (Copyright 2007 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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