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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. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. Call us now if you don’t know where to start in your project. Put down the tools and call us now before you hurt yourself. We’ll help you get the job done right so your house looks great and you’re ready to enjoy the holidays in style.

    Coming up this hour, speaking of the holidays, are you hosting any large groups? Well, if you are, we can help you make room for those guests and make their stay more comfortable. We’re going to have details on how to do that in just a couple of minutes.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, you know attic insulation is important but you might be wondering, ‘Alright, I want to do this but can I do it myself?’ Well, you can. In fact, insulation; it’s a great way to save money, energy and reduce your carbon footprint. So it is a project that is doable and environmentally friendly. We’re going to walk you through it, coming up.

    TOM: And while you’re reducing that carbon footprint, how about saving a little water at the same time. If you’ve got a salt-based water softener, you are not only using more water in the treatment process; you’re also using salt, which is pretty unhealthy and it’s also released back into that water supply. So coming up, we’re going to have some advice on a new product that you can use that will reduce the hardness of your water without the use of salt. That’s all coming up in just a bit.

    LESLIE: Hey, and we’ve got a great prize for you this hour. It’s a prize that will help you to go green because you’re not going to be filling those landfills with dull drill bits. We’ve got a sharpener for you. We’re giving away, this hour, the Drill Doctor 750X which is going to pay for itself after one use. Well, it’s going to pay for itself immediately because yours could be free; so pick up the phone for your chance to win.

    TOM: 888-666-3974. The Drill Doctor is a great holiday gift as well; so if you don’t win it, you can pick one up and share it with somebody that’s a good home improver because they can sharpen all of their drill bits with this cool, new product. It’s worth 190 bucks. If you want to win it, though, gotta call us right now at 888-MONEY-PIT and be willing to come on the air and ask your home improvement question. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Monica in Colorado is dealing with a situation involving a garbage disposal. Tell us what’s going on.

    MONICA: Well, I moved into this house a year ago and I have a kitchen sink that has a double sink and the garbage disposal, when I use it, the stuff that I’m grinding up is coming up the other sink.

    TOM: OK.

    MONICA: Why is that doing that and in every other house I’ve lived in never did that? Why is it doing that?

    TOM: Because the way the two drains are configured, the out port on the garbage disposer is too close or the pipes are not angled in the right way to push the waste down the pipe. It’s basically looking for the quickest way out so it’s throwing it up the other side. You need to have a plumber come in and change the configuration of those drains. There should be a Y connection that actually points the waste down so it can’t come back up again.


    TOM: The problem is with the configuration of the pipes. I suspect that the sink originally didn’t have the garbage disposer; somebody came in and put it in, tried to hook the drain pipes up in the easiest way possible but it wasn’t the right way when you have a garbage disposer. So that’s why you’re throwing waste up the other side.

    MONICA: Mm-hmm. OK, well I will get a plumber.

    TOM: Gotta rerun the drains, Monica.

    MONICA: Yeah.

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

    LESLIE: John in New Jersey is dealing with some leaky windows. Tell us about the problem.

    JOHN: Hi. Yes, I’ve had Andersen windows now for two-and-a-half years and when they installed them they said there was no problem. They’re an insulated type of window and yet I get a draft that comes through.

    TOM: Hmm.

    JOHN: Now being that they’re a costly window and it’s insulated, I hate to put plastic over it just to keep the cold out.

    TOM: What kind of window did you have there before?

    JOHN: We had a four-foot picture window.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Have you ever tried to do a real careful inspection of every area of the window; either with the back of your hand or you could use like an incense stick and watch for puffs of smoke and see if there’s any air streaming in? I will tell you that if an Andersen window is installed square, there is absolutely no way that it’s going to leak because it’s a really good window. I suspect the problem is with the installation and most likely it’s around the window unit; it’s not the window unit itself. Those windows have sort of a flange on them that have to be properly sealed and if they’re not you’re going to get some air that blows in around the outside of it but it’s not coming through the window itself. So what I would do if I was responding to this, I would do a very careful inspection of all the trim area all around the house – all around the window, I should say. I would also check the windows, too, and you can feel drafts easily with the back of your hand; not the front but the back because the back of your skin is much more sensitive than your palm.

    If you identify a place that window is leaking in the window itself, well, then I suspect something is not aligned properly. That is an installation problem. And if you find it around the outside of the window where the trim is, that is definitely an installation problem. But I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with the window itself because I know how well those windows are made. There are certain brands of windows that I just trust: Andersen is one; Pella is one. You know there are a bunch of really good-quality windows and as long as they’re installed correctly in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendation, those windows just aren’t going to leak. But the manufacturers can’t control the installation. If the installation is not done properly, they will leak; so you’ve got to do some further inspection and try to identify where that insulation problem is.

    If you’re not getting satisfaction from that installer maybe you ought to call another one or talk to an independent home inspector who can do an inspection for you and really give you an unbiased, impartial opinion and get this thing fixed.

    John, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. With just days left til the big holiday, we can help you get all of your holiday home improvements done in time for the big day. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week we’re here to help you with your project at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, do you have a big family gathering planned for the holidays? Well, we want to help make your guests feel at home with a few ideas to make them real comfortable. We’ll have all of that, next.

    (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.

    TOM: And we are standing by for your phone call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. One caller we talk to this hour will not only get the answer to their home improvement question. They’ll also get the chance to win a Drill Doctor 750X. It is a drill bit sharpener that is fast and easy to use and can sharpen dull or broken drill bits in less than 60 seconds. This is a product that really works. I have one and I am not alone. There have been nearly three million sold so far because it saves time and it saves money and, by the way, it makes a fantastic Christmas gift. The Drill Doctor 750X is going out to one lucky caller that calls us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with their home improvement question.

    LESLIE: And I’ve got to tell you, the Drill Doctor, it really is very fun to use. It’s not hard to figure out. Once you get it down you will be sharpening drill bits nonstop. You’ll, in fact, be looking for things to break down.

    TOM: It has an addictive quality to it. You want to get all those drill bits sharpened that you’ve been storing about.

    LESLIE: (chuckles) And I tell you, another thing that has an addictive quality is hosting guests. I love to be the host. I seem to always have somebody visiting and staying at my house. And if you are like me and tend to have people over during the holiday season and you find that it gets a little stressful, I want to help you cut down on the stress because you really need to be prepared, when you’re hosting some guests, especially during the holiday season.

    First of all, you don’t need a separate guest room to make people comfortable. You just want to make sure that they’ve got good sleeping quarters that are comfy with a nice bed; even if it’s an air mattress. If you’ve got an old mattress or a worn-out pullout couch, a foam egg carton topper – you know, you can get them at any of those home shopping centers. It looks like an egg crate; in fact, it might even be called an egg crate – really makes for a very comfortable situation. It gets college students through four years and they really sleep in. (chuckles)

    TOM: Now in a pinch, can you actually use an egg crate?

    LESLIE: (chuckling) You would need many of them. (Tom and Leslie laugh)

    Also, you want to make sure that you’ve got a nice side table or a little cabinet nearby so that your guests can sit in bed. Maybe give them a reading light, a little bit of storage. It’s also really nice – give them a quiet clock; show them how to use the alarm on it. And then add some bottled water. You can get a really beautiful little bottled water holder and a cup and put it on the side table. Make them feel comfortable. Make it like it’s a hotel. But don’t make them too comfortable.

    TOM: How about chocolates on the pillow? Is that a good idea, too? (chuckles)

    LESLIE: It’s always nice to treat them well but you – remember, you want them to leave at some point.

    TOM: Eventually.

    LESLIE: So don’t be too inviting. (chuckles)

    TOM: You know, another thing you might want to think about is cleaning out some closet space for your guests; maybe give them a handful of hangers and, if space allows, a folding luggage stand. Add a small chair or a bench and you’ve got the basics for some hospitality. But as Leslie said, not too much because you we want them to leave eventually. (Leslie chuckles)

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to those questions. Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Dorothy in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. What’s going on at your home?

    DOROTHY: Yes, I have a situation in my living room, that’s been going on since June, where when it’s humid inside the house we seem to itch.

    LESLIE: Hmm.

    TOM: Hmm.

    DOROTHY: We’ve been to the dermatologist. We’ve had a tree cut down. We’ve gotten rid of furniture. It’s just a mystery.

    TOM: Huh. What kind of an HVAC system do you have? What kind …?

    LESLIE: Do you have forced air? Duct work?

    DOROTHY: Radiators.

    TOM: Hmm, so …

    DOROTHY: Hot water.

    TOM: Hot water radiators. So are you doing any kind of air filtering?

    LESLIE: Yeah, have you tried one of those portable air purifiers?

    DOROTHY: No. Now when I run the air conditioner or when I run the fan it’s not an issue.

    TOM: Well, when you run the air conditioner you’re recycling air.

    DOROTHY: Right.

    TOM: Now what kind of air conditioners do you have?

    DOROTHY: Central.

    TOM: You have central air?

    DOROTHY: Yes.

    TOM: Oh, well alright. Here’s a solution.


    TOM: Your central air conditioning system is going to have a blower somewhere and right at the location of that blower you can install something called an electronic air cleaner. Now, probably one of the best ones is made by Aprilaire and I think it’s the Model 5000. That takes out virtually all of the dust, dirt, dust mites, virus-sized particles that are in the air.

    LESLIE: You know, microscopic-sized particles are going to get trapped into this filtration system and the filter itself only needs to be changed once a year; not like those filters at each register that you need to change monthly. And the filter is so dense in its filtration that it really attacks everything in the air; so you’ll probably see a big difference, number one, in the air quality and how much you need to clean as far as what dust you see around the house and it’s probably going to kick this problem in the living room.

    TOM: And Dorothy, in times when you don’t need to run the air conditioning, you could just run the fan for the air conditioning system without the compressor and that’ll scrub the air because it’ll basically run it all through the filter again.

    DOROTHY: OK, great. I’ll try that. Thank you so much.

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

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

    HOLLY: Yes, I’m calling regarding a skylight that we have in our home. Several years ago we had a new roof put on and we had the skylight replaced. We have a cathedral ceiling. Since we replaced it we’ve had no leaks but on the cathedral ceiling we have something black growing. We assume it’s mold. It does not leave a stain. We can get up there on a really tall ladder and wipe it off but we get this every year …

    LESLIE: It’s actually not that uncommon of a problem. What happens is because this is in your ceiling; it’s at your roof line, it tends to sort of mess with the convective loop of the air flow in your house and you’re getting a cooler spot on the roof line. So when it’s cooler, dirt and dust just sort of tends to stick because of the temperature difference …

    HOLLY: OK.

    LESLIE: … and that’s why you’re seeing the staining. It’s not a leak; it’s not mold; it’s not water. It’s just the dirt and the dust that’s in the air tends to want to magnetically stick to this area because it’s cooler.

    HOLLY: Oh, OK. Alright.

    TOM: Yeah, Holly, as the warm air of your house strikes that cold underside of the skylight, it basically chills and then settles; so you get this sort of – think of it as a breeze or a convective loop that’s always sort of washing the air against that surface. Depositing dirt, over time, creates that black spot.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. That’s why it wipes off so easily.

    TOM: If you could get into the attic space around that and insulate the well of the skylight, that would stop some of that …

    HOLLY: OK.

    TOM: … because it would be warm and it wouldn’t chill and sort of attach.

    LESLIE: It would solve that temperature difference.

    TOM: Exactly.

    HOLLY: OK. Well, thank you so much.

    TOM: Alright, mystery solved, Holly. (Leslie chuckles) Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Jeff in West Virginia, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    JEFF: I’m looking to buy a home and I want to know if there’s (AUDIO GAP) tell if the home has been remodeled or added onto. Because this home is very nice but it has new siding on it and it might be hiding where it’s been added onto.

    TOM: There’s a couple of things that you can do, Jeff. First of all, before you buy a house you want to make sure you get a professional home inspection because an inspector can discover a lot of that stuff for you. Sometimes there are very subtle things that a pro can see that will give you some history. If you want to find a good home inspector, go to the website for the American Society of Home Inspectors – it’s ASHI.org – and put in your zip code and you can find a bunch of inspectors that way, then interview them and pick somebody that makes you comfortable.

    LESLIE: And Jeff, it’s so important to find an inspector this way. Don’t go with somebody that the realtor recommends or that the homeowner who is selling the house recommends because you want to be able to get a completely unbiased interpretation of that house.

    TOM: Now the next thing you can do is you can go down to town hall and you can ask for the building permit file on the home. This is a public record, so anyone can walk in and ask for it. And this way you can investigate whether or not there were permits; especially if it looks pretty clear like there was some recent work done. There ought to be a building permit that was secured before that work was done. There ought to have been inspections. So you can check all that by pulling the permits at town hall.

    LESLIE: Phil in Idaho is looking for some help with a doggy door. Tell us about your project.

    PHIL: Yeah, I want to install a doggy door. It’s for a medium-size door – or dog. (Tom and Leslie laugh) And anyway …

    TOM: OK.

    PHIL: But anyway, in the summertime it gets about 101, 102; but in the winter time, you know, we’re talking below zero here.

    TOM: Right.

    LESLIE: Well, that’s a nice range of climate.

    PHIL: And so what I want is something that I can put into there that I don’t have Wally Waterdrop come flying into the house.

    TOM: Yeah, you know there are some pretty good insulated extreme weather dog doors out there. I know Pet Safe makes one that actually has like three layers; so there are like two vinyl flaps with like the magnetic weatherstripping, then there’s a foam insulating layer in between. You could probably find that online if you searched for extreme weather doors for pets.

    LESLIE: Catherine in Pennsylvania, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we help you with today?

    CATHERINE: Well, I’ve got a cracked vent pipe and I’ve opened up the part that was cracked and it’s going up to my third floor bathroom as well as to the roof beyond.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    CATHERINE: I don’t know how I can repair this.

    TOM: Is this for your plumbing system?


    TOM: And is it a cast iron pipe?

    CATHERINE: Correct …

    TOM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

    CATHERINE: …. and it’s cracked right along the length of it.

    TOM: Yeah.

    CATHERINE: At the elbow.

    TOM: Yeah, very, very common condition. That’s pretty much the way those pipes wear. They’re very heavy, there’s a lot of weight above them and they go through different forces and they will crack. So how do you fix that? Well, generally, you replace it. Is it leaking now, though?

    CATHERINE: Well, actually, I’ve disconnected the toilet because sometimes the water backs up into the crack. So, the third floor bathroom is not functioning and it hasn’t been for a year because I can’t find a competent individual who can give me a reasonable answer.

    TOM: Right. Well, you know what you ought to do? Are you familiar with Angie’s List?

    CATHERINE: Angie’s List? No.

    TOM: It’s a really good service. It’s online and, basically, if you join Angie’s List, it’s sort of a social networking site that helps you find contractors. You have thousands upon thousands of people in any one area that are on Angie’s List and they all openly share ratings on contractors and I bet if you spent a little time on that service you’d be able to find a good guy because it definitely sounds like you’re not talking to the right plumbers. You know, cracked cast iron pipes is sort of Plumber 101. If you don’t have a plumber that can fix it, you’re not talking to the right guys.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    Say, when you’re doing the dishes, do you notice that there’s a little bit of, you know, mineral-y residue left on the glasses when they’re dry? You may have a hard water problem and it could be making your life a lot more difficult than it needs to be. Well, you want to consider installing a water softening system that uses no salt, is super easy to install and is going to help you save water. When we come back, we’ll have all the details on that.

    (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: 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. Call us now with your do-it-yourself dilemma. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Hey, call us now if you are sick and tired of dealing with hard water in your house because we’ve got a solution. You know we get a lot of calls to the program about plumbing issues and one area of interest is how to solve those very same hard water problems. You know, hard water can do a number on your fixtures and your appliances; not to mention the fact that it just doesn’t plain feel good when you have that water trickling over you in the shower. (Leslie chuckles) And we’ve been telling you about a new product that can treat this without expensive water softening systems to install or without salt so it’s very, very healthy.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And in fact, there is a less expensive way to treat your hard water situation and it doesn’t even require any plumbing to install it, so you can do it yourself. And that’s why, here to tell us more and why this is a great way to go green in your household – as far as water softening is concerned – we’ve got Bill Freije and is the president of Freije Treatment Systems.

    Welcome, Bill.

    BILL: Hi, nice to be with you all.

    TOM: Bill, your product is called EasyWater. We’ve been talking a lot about it; want to do a little bit of a review.

    First of all, what is hard water; why does it cause problems; why do so many people hate and it have it?

    BILL: Hard water, basically, is water that has calcium and magnesium, which that is what hardness is; it’s calcium and magnesium which – so hard water is like water that has dissolved rock in it and the more calcium and magnesium it has, the harder the water.

    TOM: Now the rock; where does that come from? Is that drawn up from the water as it’s sort of pulled up from ground wells?

    BILL: Water is kind of known as the universal solvent. So where water flows, like down an aquifer in groundwater or down a river and it goes over rock, it dissolves that rock and takes it into solution; so that hardness is part of the water.

    LESLIE: Now are there certain areas of the country that are afflicted with this situation more than others or does it really just depend on your section of the neighborhood and where you get your water from?

    BILL: It’s – certain sections are more than others but you know, Leslie, sometimes people are on well water; their own private wells; sometimes they’re on city water. But by and large, about 85 percent of the country has what is known as hard water and need to do some type of treatment.

    TOM: We’re talking to Bill Freije. He is the president of Freije Treatment Systems and an inventor. He created a product called EasyWater. Let’s talk about that.

    Now, typically, if you have hard water you have to use a salt-based softening system. Typically, it’s pretty expensive; requires the skills of a plumber to properly install it. You’ve actually come up with a whole different way to achieve soft water. Let’s talk about how EasyWater works.

    BILL: Yeah, well first, Tom, you know a softener; you’re actually removing hardness which, frankly, are good minerals – the calcium and magnesium – and you’re putting two times as much sodium in its place. That’s called ion exchange. That’s what every – the way every salt-type softener works. Instead of removing the hardness, we’re sending electronic frequencies through the wall of a pipe so there’s – our box hangs on the wall and attaches to a wire that’s wrapped around a foot or less of their main cold water line; sends frequencies through the wall of the pipe into the water and those frequencies, instead of removing the minerals, just doesn’t allow them to stick.

    TOM: So is it fair to say that it – the analogy that I think of when you describe this, Bill, is what happens to magnets. You know, if you have …

    LESLIE: When they push away from each other.

    TOM: … two positive ends of a magnet, they push away. Are you basically impacting these minerals so that they repel each other, much like magnets would repel, and hence stay as a sort of free-floating mineral in the water and then can’t stick to anything?

    BILL: Well, in a sense. Think of it this way. You know, when you get a little static electricity on your hand and you attract little pieces of paper …

    TOM: Right.

    BILL: … we take the charge away from the minerals so they don’t stick to the holes of your showerhead, your water heater, your icemaker. We simply don’t allow those minerals to stick. Under a microscope they look like a Frisbee instead of a tree branch. They lose their surface charge …

    LESLIE: Oh, interesting.

    BILL: … and they don’t stick.

    TOM: Ah, that’s a good way to think about it. So it’s kind of like taking the static electricity out of it and allowing them to float and then not stick.

    BILL: That’s right. So that, frankly, the good minerals are still in the water; you get to drink them. You know, calcium and magnesium are healthy; it’s just that if they’re allowed to stick they can ruin your appliances.

    TOM: Now Bill, you actually did some work with some water heater manufacturers and some manufacturers that have problems with hard water. I thought it was a good test of your system. Can you talk about the results of the work that you did with companies like Wal-Mart and Frito-Lay and I believe Rinnai as well?

    BILL: Yes, some of them actually make equipment; like Rinnai makes things called tankless water heaters – they’re very scale-prone – and they tested a lot of different products to try to find something to keep scale from forming and, frankly, our product performed the best of all the products that they tested; even including a salt-type softener. Then there are end users like Frito-Lay, for instance …

    LESLIE: Wait, Bill. Can I jump in one second?

    BILL: Yeah.

    LESLIE: When you’re heating the water, does that cause – you know, if you’re not treating the hard water situation, does the heat of the water make it, in fact, more sticky or more clogging, if you will?

    BILL: That’s a great question, Leslie. Absolutely. That is – you notice your cold water line doesn’t scale much but your water heater and your hot water lines scale and that is exactly because of when you heat the water the minerals aren’t able to stay dissolved and the hotter you heat the water, the less the minerals are able to stay dissolved and they come out of solution, they look like those little tree branches and they want to stick to something and they do.

    TOM: Hmm.

    LESLIE: Interesting. So it was really smart to partner up with Rinnai for the test.

    BILL: Yeah, yeah. It was an independent test and they tested all these different products; first using a lab and then using their own tests and we faired very well.

    TOM: Well, it’s a great product and I also want to thank you, Bill. I see that you’ve also offered our listener a special discount if they’re interested in the product; $100 off any system. All you have to do is mention Money Pit when you call EasyWater or you can enter Money Pit as a promo code. So let me give you that phone number. It’s 888-7-NO-SALT. That’s 888-7-NO-SALT – 888-766-7258 – and the website is EasyWater.com. Great product. Great idea. Great solution for your hard water problems.

    Bill Freije, President; thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    BILL: Thanks a lot for having me.

    LESLIE: Alright, when we come back we’re going to tell you how you can do more to go green in your home; like adding insulation. We’ll tell you what you need to know, after this.

    (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 and you should pick up the phone and give us a call with your home improvement or your home repair question or even if you just need an idea for a gift for the home improver in your life; even if that person is you and you just want to get it out there the gift you are looking for. The number …

    TOM: Drop some solid hints?

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Exactly.

    TOM: And the notes on the refrigerator aren’t working. Well, give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Our operators are always standing by 24 hours a day, seven days a week and right now, too. And one caller that we talk to this hour on the air is going to win the Drill Doctor 750X. Now this is a drill bit sharpener. It works really fast, it’s super easy to use and it can sharpen dull and even broken bits. So if you’ve got a little bit, as long as it’s got a complete turn on there you can resharpen that sucker in less than 60 seconds. Three million people have bought this product so far. Tom and I both have one and we are hooked on sharpening drill bits. We look forward to them breaking down, as a matter of fact, because it is so fun. If you are not a home improver, this makes a great gift but you’ve got to be in it to win it, so pick up the phone and ask us your home improvement question now.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Alright, you’ve heard us talking about insulation and all it can do to cut down on energy use, save money and cut down on the amount of greenhouse gases that are released from your home. You might also have heard of the term r value, which is pretty much a fancy way of measuring thermal resistance, of all things, including insulation. Now, different parts of the country require different r values but you don’t have to memorize any numbers. Just know that the Department of Energy recommends at least 15.5 inches of batt insulation and the experts at Owens Corning say you might even do better with 22 inches of insulation.

    LESLIE: Now the attic, it is the most important area in your entire home to insulate and adding the insulation or starting from scratch up there is an easy project that you can do yourself. If you go with fiberglass insulation, it’s non-combustible and it’s noncorrosive by nature, which means that it’s not going to settle or lose its energy-saving abilities over time. You can also use the blown-in type of insulation and you can even rent the machine, to do it yourself, from Owens Corning. It’s called the Attic Cat. And if you want to get a contractor for your project, pick up the phone and give a call to 1-800-GET-PINK or visit a website called InsulateandSave.com. They’ll help you find a certified energy professional/insulation contractor that’s in your area and can help you to start saving energy dollars right now.

    TOM: They’ve also got a great homeowner’s guide to insulation book available for free at InsulateandSave.com.

    888-666-3974. That number is also free and will get you the answer to your home improvement question. Let’s get back to those phones. Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Fred in Michigan, welcome to The Money Pit. What can we do for you today?

    FRED: I just built a new house and it’s got a 1,400-square-foot garage that’s well-insulated. Because I live up here in Northern Michigan, I’m wondering how I can heat it efficiently.

    TOM: Well, the best way to heat that unheated garage is with a vented ceiling heater; you know, one of these big heaters that hangs in the ceiling. Basically it works just like a regular furnace in that it has a heat exchanger and has a fan that blows air over the heat exchanger. So the fuel, the gas combustion, stays inside the heat exchanger and goes through a vent pipe – usually a class B vent; goes up through the roof and out and away and then the fan blows over it. I would definitely not recommend an unvented propane heater and the electric heaters are just going to cost you an arm and a leg to run. So if you want to heat the garage and use it on a regular basis, I would put in a vented ceiling heater and do it right.

    FRED: OK. Well, that sounds – answers my question. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: And they work really, really well.

    TOM: Yeah, they really do. Definitely the way to go.

    LESLIE: Now we’re heading over to Pennsylvania where Julia has a window question. What’s going on at your money pit?

    JULIA: Well, I have one of the metal sunrooms and it’s been quite a problem for me and I would like to have some help and guidance as to what I should do because it’s not really serviceable. And the windows are all stained because the seals are broken; they have failed because the insulating factor (ph) is gone.

    TOM: And you want to know the least expensive way to fix that?

    JULIA: The most economical way, yes. I’m just …

    TOM: Julia, that would be curtains. OK? (chuckles) Because when the seals go between the glass like that you can’t repair that because you can’t restore that vacuum to that window pane. The panes wear that way; the thermal panes wear that way and when they get a leak in them you’ll get moisture inside that discolors it. Now the good news is that it really only affects you visually; it doesn’t so much affect the r value. So it’s still going to be a reasonably well-insulated piece of glass but it does get kind of nasty looking. So until you really can’t stand to look at it, I would live with it.

    Sorry I don’t have better news for you, Julia, but remember; window treatments are cheap. (chuckles)

    LESLIE: Yeah, especially if you make them yourself. (chuckles)

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

    Coming up, we’re going to answer a listener who’s got an e-mail question into us about whether or not an attic needs to be drafty. Should your attic be tight or should it be drafty? Which one is going to save you more energy this winter? We’re going to tell you, 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: Well, if both your bank account and your pipes are frozen, we can probably help. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and we want to help you get last minute holiday shopping done. We can help you if you head on over to MoneyPit.com. We have got lots of fun items there. We’ve got hats and t-shirts and mugs. You name it, we’ve got it. We’ve even got cheeky home improvement humor; if you’re a fan of that.

    TOM: Yeah, you need to check out our humor-wear; like the shirt declaring that you came, you saw and conquered – with a circular saw, that is. (Leslie chuckles) It’s all online right now at MoneyPit.com. And while you’re there, click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question just like Jim did from Poughkeepsie, New York.

    Hi, Jim. How can we help?

    LESLIE: That’s right. Jim writes: ‘I have a ranch house built in the 50s with a hip roof. The problem is there’s no overhang, so venting is difficult. It’s hot in the summer, damp in the winter. There are small vents on the east and west sides. We’ve put two 12-inch turbines on the rear, which is the north side; and have added a ridge vent across the top. We still have to open the attic trap door in the summer to add flow. How can we solve this problem?’

    TOM: Well, you mentioned that there’s no overhang, so what you can install, Jim, is something called a drip-edge vent and this goes around the entire exterior perimeter of the house. It actually extends your roof line by about two to three inches and sort of creates like a mini soffit where air can get into that roof line and flow upwards and into the attic space and …

    LESLIE: Tom, can you do that without major construction to the roof?

    TOM: You’re going to have to pull the roof shingles off the front edge; so you know, if you consider that major construction, yes, you will have some work to do there. But it’s not terribly difficult. It can probably be done inside of a day.

    LESLIE: Alright, next up, we’ve got one from Barbara in Laramie, Wyoming who writes: ‘Grout. You mentioned a permanent self-sealing grout product on your show that was water soluble with its cleanup. What is it and how do I use it?’

    TOM: We were talking about the sealer from TileLab and it is water soluble. It did a really good job in some of the tests that we put it through. The key here, Barbara, is to make sure that the grout is really clean. You may have to clean it a couple of times before you apply that and then use two or three coats of that sealer. Now if you do that, that does a great job on keeping the grout from dirting up again; so you definitely want to make sure that you keep it as clean as possible and then seal it two or three times and you’ll be good to go.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and that really will help you, Barbara, with all of your cleaning chores in your heavily-tiled areas; which, if you’ve got a full-tile bath like me, you will be very thankful for.

    TOM: Well, just like the Boy Scout motto – ‘Always be prepared’ – now is a great time to gather any supplies you might need for a winter or seasonal storm emergency. That’s why Leslie tells us what we need in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, and you know what? This actually isn’t a bad idea to have organized all year long. You want to put it together and keep it in a place that’s easily accessible.

    Start by getting a waterproof, airtight container and then fill it with a warm blanket; a flashlight; a portable radio; extra batteries (make sure you’ve got the right size for all of the things that are battery-operated); you want candles, matches; you want canned food items that aren’t going to spoil and then, think about it, a can opener. You don’t want to have those cans and then no opener; God forbid something should happen. And you want to make sure you throw in some bottled water and try to have enough for three days because, remember, you might need it also to brush your teeth or something like that. You can also add extra items. I know I’ve got a deck of cards in mine. I even have, you know, a hard-wire phone just in case the power is out and all the portable models don’t work. This way you can just plug in. Although you’re probably never, ever, ever going to need this emergency box, just having it on hand is going to make you feel all warm and fuzzy and nice and prepared, just like the Boy Scouts say.

    TOM: Coming up next week on The Money Pit, speaking of emergencies, we’re going to have some tips on candle safety because it is the season for candle fires. That’s coming up next week on the show. 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)


    (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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