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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: And we make good homes better. Call us right now with your home improvement question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us with your do-it-yourself dilemma. Whatever you’re working on, we’re here to help you get the job done. Hey, maybe you have a waterbed that suddenly isn’t (Leslie chuckles), well, we can solve that problem.

    LESLIE: That’s where all that water’s coming from.

    TOM: Well, we can help you with the leaks and the squeaks and the other do-it-yourself dilemmas that face you this holiday weekend. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. It’s a great hour, it’s a great idea.

    Coming up this hour, how’s your ceiling?

    LESLIE: It’s up there.

    TOM: No, not the one overhead. It’s the ceiling of your home’s ductwork. I ask that question because the answer can have a big impact on both your health and your wallet. We’ll tell you why in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also this hour, have you been doing some heavy-duty holiday baking that has just left your oven spattered with chunks of cookie dough or all of that overflowing pie filling?

    TOM: Mmm, charcoaled apples. (laughing)

    LESLIE: Yeah, don’t eat it. We’re going to tell you how to freshen up your oven without those harsh chemicals so your next batch of baking doesn’t even smell like that oven cleaner or oven fire, for that matter.

    TOM: Also ahead, we’re going to tell you how to add a skylight to give you that light and airy feeling to your home. It’s actually easier than you might think. We’ll tell you why in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And we here at The Money Pit love to give away prizes. That’s why this hour we have got a super-great one. One caller is going to win a brand new Ryobi four-piece lithium ion combo kit. It is worth – get this – 260 bucks.

    TOM: So give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Diana in Utah’s got a leaky foundation in the basement. What’s going on? Tell us about the problem.

    DIANA: This is a home that was built in 1975 and I bought it about three years ago. And one night I went downstairs. I’d be remodeling and I went downstairs one night and some boxes that I had put in this one specific room had wet all over the bottom of it. So I started to investigate and tore the drywall back. The previous owners had known that it had leaked, so they built a wall out about a foot and you could see where they had cut the drywall from the previous people and taken it away from the wall.

    Well, the problem is that it’s got honeycomb, I guess you call it, where the concrete on the foundation was not vibrated all the way down. And it doesn’t leak real bad but when it does leak it just, you know, comes in the bottom of that honeycomb area. And so I’ve torn the drywall out all over the whole basement on the one side and there’s just patches of this honeycomb where the rock shows through that they didn’t vibrate it all the way down and I’ve had several bids but I get different answers from different people. Some way put drylock on it from Lowe’s. Some gave me a $10,000 estimate on digging the outside and then coating the inside. So I’m really lost. I don’t know which way to turn.

    TOM: Well, the first thing we want to do is stop the basement from leaking, correct?

    DIANA: Correct.

    TOM: Alright. The reason that basements typically leak is because of two things. First of all, the grading at the outside is usually too flat or the water is sloping in to the foundation or there’s some element of landscaping that’s causing water to be trapped there.

    LESLIE: To run right there.

    TOM: Like any type of – like a railroad tie or a sidewalk that’s block in an area and water just stays right there. The second …

    DIANA: And I did change that.

    TOM: OK.

    DIANA: The downspout was right there so I put a long pipe on it and pulled it away from the house.

    TOM: And is it still leaking even though you’ve extended all the downspouts?

    DIANA: No, I haven’t seen any water.

    TOM: Yeah. Well, and that’s probably the solution. So in terms of digging up the outside and sealing and all of that, that’s mostly unnecessary. I would recommend that you paint the inside of the foundation walls because that stops the normal soil dampness from evaporating into the basement.

    DIANA: Oh, great.

    TOM: But if you extended the downspouts and you’ve regraded, you’ve solved your wet basement problem, so that’s done. Now, the only thing that’s left is a cosmetic question and with respect to that, if you’re going to put more drywall up, the idea of framing it out away from the walls is a good one. It’s good to have an air barrier there. But the other thing that you should know is that there are types of drywall that are not organic. There’s one by Georgia-Pacific called Dens Armor which has a fiberglass face to it and so it’s not going to grow any mold. In the basement area I would use that product.

    LESLIE: It’s made specifically for moist environments like your basement, your bathroom or your kitchen so it really does make a lot of sense.

    DIANA: Oh, great. Well now, you know when it leaks it doesn’t leak very often but it comes right through that honeycomb. So when you say paint, do you want me to use that drylock downstairs or what kind of paint?

    TOM: Yeah, any type of a basement foundation wall paint. Behr makes a good one too that we actually did some testing on and we’re pretty happy with.

    DIANA: And what’s the name of that one? Behr. B-e-h-r. That you can get at The Home Depot.

    DIANA: OK, great.

    TOM: Alright?

    DIANA: Well, thank you so very much. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer that question.

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

    LESLIE: Robert in New Jersey has a paint question. How can we help you today, Robert?

    ROBERT: How you doing?

    I’m trying to redo my garage floor.


    ROBERT: Want to put down a coat of UCoatIt. It’s like an industrial-strength stucco speckled floor.

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    ROBERT: I need to get the old paint off. The manufacturer calls to a bare surface of concrete. You can’t put it over existing paint. The old paint is like just a garage paint. It’s been down there about 10 years and it’s something that’s worn out.

    LESLIE: Is it pretty flaky?

    ROBERT: No, it’s not flaky. It’s just worn out. It’s smooth to the finish. There’s no edges on it or anything.

    TOM: Are you real enamored with this floor product that you’ve chosen? So much so that you want to strip all the old paint off? Because it’s a lot of work. There are other types of floor coatings. These epoxy coatings that are two-part epoxies are made by a number of manufacturers. I know Rust-Oleum makes one and QUIKRETE ….

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … makes one and they include a prep solution …

    LESLIE: Like a first-step cleanser.

    TOM: Yeah, that you use to clean the old floor. But you do not have to take off all of the old paint. And the only way to do that, Robert, is to use a paint stripper …

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: … which is an awful lot of work to do just to get it down to raw concrete.

    ROBERT: Yeah, well the ones you spoke about, they – I called up the manufacturers on them, the Rust-Oleum and the other one. They only have about a two-year life expectancy. You’d have to redo it. And they’re about a hundred and something dollars a pack. So, the other one is a lifetime guarantee.

    TOM: Well, it’s probably a lot more expensive, isn’t it?

    ROBERT: Yeah, it’s about five times the price but …

    TOM: Yeah. Listen, you know my sister put down the QUIKRETE one. It’s been down probably four or five years now and it works great. It looks good and it hasn’t worn out. And the only thing that she did is she clear-coated on top of the speckle finish.


    TOM: And so other than that it’s stood up really well. It just seems like a lot of work to strip a garage floor …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … because you’re going to have to use a lot of chemicals to do that. You’re probably going to end up using a lot of moisture. You’ll end up probably pressure-washing it and then you’ve got to wait for all that water …

    LESLIE: For all that to dry out.

    TOM: Yeah, to evaporate out. And it just seems like a lot of work. If it’s brand new concrete, OK. But for you to be forced to take all that old paint off is just an awful lot of work. I just don’t feel like it’s really necessary for you.

    ROBERT: OK. So you think the Rust-Oleum brands or the other ones in the Home Depot centers will probably work well?

    TOM: Yep. I think they’ll work great. We’ve had a lot of experience with them and they’re great. QUIKRETE or Rust-Oleum.

    ROBERT: OK. Alright, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: You are listening to The Money Pit and the holidays are almost over, folks, so bear with us. We can help you get rid of those guests. We can help you get the house tidy and get those projects done for the last push of people coming to stay with you. So give us a call with your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    So, is your oven sick and tired of all that holiday baking?

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOM: Is it chock-a-block full of cookie dough chunks and overfilled …

    LESLIE: Sweet potato goo.

    TOM: Sweet potato goo! Agh, that’s …

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOM: That’s a good one. Well, when we come back we’re going to give you a recipe for a natural oven cleaner using products that won’t hurt your hands or the environment.

    (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 and the number here at team Money Pit is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Hey, if we talk to you today on the air, you could be entered to win a four-piece lithium ion combo kit from our friends over at Ryobi. It’s worth 260 bucks. And this is a brand new kit that’s a brand new addition to Ryobi’s One+ line because the batteries and the charger are completely compatible with all the existing and all of the future – that’s right – yet-to-be Ryobi One+ tools. So call us now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Alright, we promised you a tip for oven cleaning and if your oven is looking a little worse for wear due to all that holiday baking, here is a quick low-toxic recipe. In fact, it’s pretty much nontoxic. Here’s what you need to do.

    Make a paste of baking soda and water and then apply that paste to the insides of the oven and scrub it with steel wool. Now, for stubborn stains, here’s a little trick of the trade. You can add some salt to the mix …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … and that usually slices right through it. And most importantly, if your oven is self-cleaning and you’ve got a big holiday meal planned – last big push; everybody’s coming over to your house and you’re figuring, ‘Aw man, I’d really better clean that oven before I cook the turkey on New Year’s Day – don’t do it. Don’t run the self-cleaning cycle right before you really need that oven. Here’s why.

    Those self-cleaning cycles put your appliance through a lot of stress and we have found that if your oven’s going to break down it’s going to happen right after you run the self-cleaning cycle.

    LESLIE: I mean think about it. Hours and hours at such a high temperature.

    TOM: Yep.

    LESLIE: It’s major stressful.

    TOM: Exactly. So put it off til the following week. You know, a little extra charcoal in the oven is not going to hurt that final holiday meal. And this way you’ll have your oven clean and working all at the same time.

    Hey, you got an appliance question? You got a roof question? You got a floor question? You got a decorating question? You want to tackle a home improvement New Year’s resolution? We can help you. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Tony in Virginia has a question about geothermal heating. What’s going on?

    TONY: I’m building a house and I am just curious to know what I should look for to decide whether or not I should consider geothermal heating as far as cost-wise and, you know, that type thing.

    TOM: Do you have natural gas available where you’re going to build the house, Tony?

    TONY: No, I don’t.

    TOM: You don’t. OK. Well …

    TONY: (INAUDIBLE) for gas.

    TOM: That makes the economics a little different. The thing about geothermal heating is that once it’s installed and working properly it’s a very inexpensive way to heat your house; it’s a very comfortable way to heat your house. The complaint and concern that I have about geothermal heating is that the coiling that gets embedded in the soil around your house is generally not warranteed for labor if it breaks down and that’s a problem because, obviously, when you put this under the ground you put a lot of stuff over that like driveways and pools and sidewalks and grass and sprinkler systems. And so, if the coil does break down, sure, the manufacturers will give you new plastic coiling but they won’t pay the labor and the materials it takes to restore that.

    So, the only concern I have – kind of the same kind of concerns I have about hydronic heat that’s inside of a slab – you know, it’s great until it breaks.

    TONY: Right.

    TOM: So far, we’re hearing a lot of good things about geothermal heat. People like it. It’s comfortable. Low-cost. But if the coil breaks that’s when it’s going to cost big bucks.

    TONY: Well, they do it two ways here where I live. They’ll do it horizontally under the ground and they’ll also drill just like they do a well.

    TOM: Well, if that’s the case, I would opt more for the type that has the well because at least it’s one point. It can easily be replaced.

    TONY: Well, what should I look for as far as knowing what I should pay? You know what I mean? Cost-wise.

    TOM: Here’s what I would do. I would make sure that all of the contractors you’re concerning with this are offering you the same size systems and the second thing I would do is find out if the system is Energy Star rated. If they’re Energy Star rated that will give you sort of an apples-to-apples comparison.

    LESLIE: Do you think that our American Homeowners Association membership could be helpful to Tony in looking for one of these contractors?

    TOM: Are you feeling generous today?

    LESLIE: I am indeed feeling generous for Mr. Tony.

    TOM: Alright. So Tony, what we’re going to do then is we’ll give you an American Homeowners Association Money Pit membership.

    TONY: OK.

    TOM: And that will help you identify some qualified contractors in your area as well as a boatload of other home improvement-related services. It’s kind of like AAA for your house.

    TONY: Right. OK. I appreciate that.

    TOM: Alright. So hang on and we’re going to get your information then we’re going to have you 866-REAL-HOME and that is the membership number. They can get you all hooked up.

    TONY: I appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Talking to Laney in New Jersey about a water heater. What’s going on and how can we help?

    LANEY: Well, I need to replace a hot water heater and I’m hearing about tankless water heaters and wondering what would be best to replace the heater with.

    TOM: Well, I think tankless water heaters are an excellent idea. They differ from your tanked water heaters because they only heat water when you need it. They work on an on-demand basis. So in other words, when you call for hot water when you turn on the faucet, the water heater comes on as soon as the water starts to move through the pipes and heats the water up instantly and then supplies it to the fixture the same way a conventional water heater would do. The advantage here is that – because you’re only heating the water when you need it you’re saving an awful lot of energy, both in the electricity it takes to run it and the gas it takes to run it. So I think that they’re a great idea and we are very, very big fans of them.

    LANEY: Well, would it better to use it if you have electric heat or if you have propane for heating?

    TOM: Now, you have – well what do you have? What’s your fuel?

    LANEY: My fuel is propane but I was wondering if I could run an electric line from the main circuit-breaker box.

    TOM: No, because an electric tankless water heater does not work very well. It has to be gas-fired, and it can be propane gas or it could be natural gas, but the dynamics and the energy efficiency change when you’re talking about electricity. You need so much power to run it that it’s not nearly as efficient. So if you have an electric water heater and you want to stay with electric, we would tell you then to put in a tanked unit but put in a high-efficiency tanked unit which basically means the insulation is very thick on it. And the second step of that, Laney, is to install that to a timer so it only comes on when the water has to be heated. So you would set the timer to run, say, for example maybe an hour or two before you woke up in the morning and then maybe in the middle of the day it goes off and then comes on for another few hours in the evening. So you only end up heating the water, say, eight or ten hours a day compared …

    LESLIE: At the times when you use it most.

    TOM: Yeah, compared to 24/7.

    LANEY: And for cooking and all. So we’d stay with the propane then.

    TOM: I would, yeah, and I would definitely go tankless.

    LANEY: Oh, good.

    TOM: If you want a place to get more information on tankless water heaters you can go to SmarterHotWater.com. That’s the website for the Rheem company which is one of the leaders in that industry.

    LANEY: Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: Bruce in Nebraska has a painting question. What can we do for you?

    BRUCE: Yeah, I’ve got a little house with that old wood siding on it and it seems like I just had it painted here a couple of years ago and the paint’s really peeling on it. You know, they primed it and everything but – is paint just not like it used to be without the lead in it now? Is it just not going to last?

    TOM: (laughing) Used to be so much better when it was chock-of-block full of lead.

    LESLIE: When it was toxic.

    TOM: That’s right. (chuckling) Well, it’s difficult to paint wood siding because you have a lot of different factors that are playing into that. Usually you get a lot of moisture inside the walls that can come out and it really depends on how they did the repainting. Now, if they truly stripped it down to the original wood and primed it with an oil-based primer and then used …

    BRUCE: It was just a water latex primer.

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: That might be part of the problem.

    LESLIE: You know …

    TOM: Yeah, an oil-based primer is so important when you’re dealing with solid wood siding.

    LESLIE: There’s also another option. There’s something called a solid stain which has the same properties as a stain, meaning it sort of, you know, penetrates into the wood siding itself so it does a better job of adhering. But if you go with a certain company like the Flood Company, they make one that’s a solid stain that has two products sort of mixed into one. It’s an oil-based primer and a latex topcoat all in the same thing. They’ve put something in it called Emulsibond, which really makes it stick, and it’s as saturated and as heavy tonation in color as a paint would be except you’re getting all of these like extra adhesive qualities because it’s a stain sort of combined into this oil base and latex. And if it’s applied according to manufacturer’s directions, they will give it a warranty of up to 15 years on a wood siding. So it might be something that you want to look into there.

    BRUCE: OK. I have to look into. Maybe that’d be the – you’d have to peel all that paint off, wouldn’t you?

    LESLIE: The only things you would have to peel off is any areas where you have sort of cracking up around the edges. You would want to get it to where it’s a smooth transition from the peeling paint to the wood surface. You don’t have to strip it down completely because it has that primer built into it.

    BRUCE: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: But get rid of any problem areas where you do have chipping or peeling.

    BRUCE: Uh-huh. OK. Well, I’ll try that then. Thanks.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. And here’s a news flash. (Tom and Leslie make news ticker sound) Duct tape. Duct tape is not designed for ducts. D-u-c-t-s. Nor is it designed for (Leslie chuckles) d-u-c-k-s. That would be unkind to the animals. But, unfortunately, most heating contractors do use it liberally to try and seal your heating ducts. As a result, what happens? It dries out, it leaks and your energy bills go up, up, up. But not to worry. We’re going to tell you how to fix that and cut those energy costs, next.

    (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. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We’re here to help you with your leaks, your squeaks and your various do-it-yourself dilemmas. Perhaps you’ve tackled a major home improvement project right here in the week of the holiday season and are thinking that perhaps that wasn’t …

    LESLIE: And you’re a crazy person. (chuckles)

    TOM: … wasn’t the best idea you ever had. You know, like maybe you decided to knock down your set of stairs and forgot to go to the bottom before you did that and now you’re stuck on the second floor. (Leslie chuckles) You know, little things like that. We can perhaps help you. At least we can call 9-1-1. (chuckles) That number is …

    LESLIE: We could send the fire department with the cherry picker.

    TOM: That’s right. That’s right. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Hey, another way we can help you is through our website. All new -totally newly redesigned with a tool there called the project finder. Basically works great. For example, if you want some energy-saving tips, you can click on insulation and ventilation in the project finder. You will see everything we’ve ever written about those topics and all the resources that you need for your winterization projects. Those energy dollars will start flying out the window before you know it. They’re probably already flying out the window. So, use the Money Pit resource at MoneyPit.com. The project finder will help you seal up that house.

    LESLIE: You know, when you’re thinking about energy dollars and sealing up those houses or your home or all parts of your house, you know you really do need to think about your ductwork and a lot of times you just ignore it. But ignoring it could mean, you know, issues with your health and especially with your wallet and those energy dollars just seeping out because – you need to think about this – tightly-sealed ductwork can keep contaminants from entering the system and circulating throughout your home. So that’s great. But despite it’s name, duct tape is not the right material to use. It is the wrong choice. Instead, make sure that your ducts are sealed by a pro using mastic, which is a high-quality compound that assures maximum energy efficiency. I mean this is a super-duper glue and it’s going to make sure that all of those joints are really stuck well together and everything is sealed nice and tight.

    TOM: Great tip. You got a question on how to cut energy dollars in your house pick up the phone and call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Mike in Indiana is dealing with some cracks in the plaster. Tell us about where they are, how often you’re fixing them. What’s going on?

    MIKE: Well, I’ve got some cracks over my door, in the plaster, and I’m not sure how to fix them. Tried putting some – like the stuff that you use to seal the drywall.

    TOM: Spackle. Spackle. Mm-hmm.

    MIKE: Yeah. And did that …

    TOM: It didn’t work too well, did it?

    MIKE: No. It came back.

    TOM: (chuckling) It came back?

    MIKE: Yeah. They’re back.

    TOM: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It’s got a very short memory. It keeps coming back. (Mike chuckles) Well, the reason that happened, Mike, is because walls and spackle are not very elastic and if you want to fix it so it doesn’t come back you have to put a piece of drywall tape over the crack the next time you repair it. And what you should do is use a fiberglass drywall tape that’s perforated and this way will sort of bridge the space across the cracked area. And then you want to use a couple of coats of spackle there and sand it between the coats and if you do that the crack won’t reappear. The fact that the crack is over the door is fairly normal because that’s where you get a lot of movement in the wall.

    MIKE: Yeah, because like in the wintertime I can’t close my bathroom door …

    TOM: Exactly.

    MIKE: … and in the summertime I can.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Exactly. Exactly.

    MIKE: Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah, that’ll fix it, Mike.

    MIKE: I appreciate it very much. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Taking a call from Greg in Louisiana about windows. How can we help you?

    GREG: Yes. I’ve got a house that’s about 25 years old and I’ve got aluminum windows; single-pane glass. But I know – I just feel the …

    TOM: Sorry to hear that. (chuckling)

    GREG: Oh, yeah. And I can just feel the cold coming through. But I’m wanting to replace my windows. I go out on new construction sites, like on custom homes, and I see that they’re using aluminum windows, double-pane glass, but I’ve gotten a quote from a window company; vinyl windows with argon gas. So I’m kind of torn between what do I want to do.

    TOM: No question. I would not use a metal window. I would use a vinyl window.

    LESLIE: They’re just going to be freezing.

    TOM: Mm-hmm. Yeah, the vinyl windows are really the hot ticket today and, in your case, you’re probably going to be looking at vinyl replacement windows. The one thing I would check, because it can very confusing when you’re trying to choose an appropriate vinyl window, is to find out if the window is Energy Star rated. That is very, very important. That’s going to give you a standard by which to measure all of the different types of windows that you are looking at. If it’s Energy Star rated it’s going to be a very good quality window.

    GREG: Well, yes. But see, I can get a choice between just going in with the low-e with just the air-filled and then versus another window – there again, low-e – but with argon gas.

    TOM: Well, low-e is a coating that’s on the interior of the glass that’s going to reflect UV radiation. That’s a definite. I would definitely get low-e glass. As far as the type of gas that’s used to insulate, there’s different types of gas. There’s argon, there’s krypton, there’s different formulations of gas. And all the window manufacturers have their own secret formula for whatever they put in between the glass. That’s why I say that if you are buying a window that’s Energy Star rated then you can fairly compare them side by side with other windows.

    GREG: Oh.

    TOM: So don’t be confused by how every manufacturer manufactures their window. They’re all going to be slightly different. But if they’re Energy Star rated then you can expect they’re going to be at least fairly comparable and then, from there, you can decide on the color and the size and the features and all that sort of thing. But make sure the window is Energy Star rated.

    Another thing to check is the National Fenestration Rating Council label.


    TOM: Yeah, there’s a label on all of the glass that will give you information on how much light goes through and how much radiation can bounce off of them because of the coating. And it’s a standard label; NFRC label. It’s another way to compare apples to apples. It’s very confusing to buy windows. That’s why the easiest thing to do is to use the Energy Star rating.

    And if you want more information on those windows, go to the EPA website which is called EnergyStar.gov. You can get some tips right there. OK, Greg?

    GREG: Very good, then. Great.

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

    GREG: Alright, thank you.

    TOM: You are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show.

    Up next, skylights. They can beautify your home and make it seem much more roomy. They can also save your money and actually help strengthen your bones and teeth.

    LESLIE: Huh?

    TOM: How is that possible? We’ll tell you, next.

    (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. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we talk to you on the air today, you are automatically entered into our random prize drawing and this hour there’s a great reason to be in that because we’re giving away a brand, spanking new four-piece lithium ion combo kit from Ryobi worth 260 bucks. It includes a drill and a circular saw and it’s compatible with all Ryobi One+ tools. Call us now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: And man, those lithium ion tools are so light. I cannot believe it. And speaking of light, let’s talk skylights. (Leslie does bugle sounds) How do you like that segue, Tom?

    TOM: Nice segue.

    LESLIE: (laughing) It’s true though. All kidding aside. Skylights, they really can help your home seem way more spacious because you’re adding in so much more light, which really does make things feel super roomy. And it can also save you energy dollars when you’re using the sun to keep your rooms warm. And it can cheer you up, especially in the winter when the daylight is limited. You just want to make sure that you properly install your skylight. In fact, when building skylights or any other roof details like valleys, rake edges, chimneys, ridges and dormer walls, you want to make sure that you take major precautions to prevent water permeation because it can seep in.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. That’s why when I put skylights in there’s a product out there I like, Leslie, from Grace. It’s called Roof Detail Membrane. It’s just that. It’s a flexible membrane, which is kind of cool because it bends and forms to those like weird spots in your roof …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … the water always seems to find. It’s always a little, tiny spot where water seems to find its way in and I like it so much better …

    LESLIE: Oh, and it’ll find its way in.

    TOM: Oh, yeah. If it can be found it definitely will. And so, these flexible membranes really bend and flex and seal them in nice and tight. If you want more information on a product like that, there’s a great website that we can recommend. It’s GraceAtHome.com. Or call us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    You know, we should also mention that there’s another type of skylight called a tubular skylight …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … that basically you only create a small hole in the roof and then you sort of unwind the tube from there down to the ceiling. It’s not clear glass like you could look up at but it pulls a lot of light into the room with very, very little disruption of the roof surface. So it’s a lot easier to put in.

    LESLIE: Yeah, smaller holes; less opportunity for leakage.

    TOM: Always a good thing. 888-666-3974.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Pam in Missouri has a question about basement moisture. Tell us what’s going on?

    PAM: Yes, I just bought a home and I need to insulate but first I need to put a vapor barrier down and I’m not sure how thick it needs to be and how to anchor it.

    TOM: The vapor barrier is going to go where in the house?

    PAM: I’ve got a dug-out basement; part paved and part with dirt behind a concrete wall.

    TOM: Alright. So you can use any of the thick, viscuine-type plastic vapor barriers. A trick of the trade on that, Pam – and by the way, we’re talking only about covering the dirt surface now; you would not cover the concrete; the dirt surface – is to put in as few seams as possible. I know it’s hard to work down there. It’s difficult to move around. You’ve got to get down on your hands and knees and sometimes crawl through it with your belly. But you want to use as large a sheet of plastic as possible …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … laying right on top of that soil. And that’s …

    LESLIE: And when Tom says seams you really mean overlapping.

    TOM: Yeah, but I mean try to have as few of those as possible. So if you have the choice of buying it 20 feet wide or 30 feet wide, I’d buy 30 feet wide so you end up with fewer overlapping seams.

    PAM: OK. Thank you.

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

    LESLIE: Blair in Colorado is dealing with a spotty granite floor. Tell us about these types of stains and if you know what caused them, share.

    BLAIR: Yeah, basically I noticed that whenever I – you know, when I was in the bathroom and water would get on my granite floor I noticed that there’d be some really dark discoloring and I just want to know, really, what it’s from. I was under the impression that everything was sealed off, you know, just like with some kind of top protective layer on the granite. But deep down, inside within the granite itself I noticed these deep discoloring marks and I just wanted to know what can be done to prevent that.

    LESLIE: How old is your granite floor?

    BLAIR: I don’t know. I know that when I was – this is a house I actually just moved out of, but …

    TOM: OK.

    BLAIR: … the flooring seems to be relatively new; maybe within the past like three or four years.

    LESLIE: Now, here’s the one thing, Blair, that you know – it’s the downside to owning a stone surface – countertop, floor, wherever you’re applying this granite. It needs to be resealed and a lot of people don’t tell you this but sometimes it even needs to be resealed annually.

    TOM: Yeah, absolutely. You know, there’s a good website that has products that are specifically designed for the granite floors. It’s called Stonecare.com.

    BLAIR: OK.

    TOM: And there’s a couple of different products there that work really well. There’s a cleaner called Marbalex. There’s another one called Spray-N-Seal. But when you have granite it’s a great material, it’s a beautiful material; but boy, does it mean a lot of work.

    BLAIR: Yeah. Well, I mean I guess that’s – that’s new to me. I always thought it was just kind of, you know, install it and that’s it.

    TOM: Yeah.

    BLAIR: But, yeah.

    TOM: No, it’s not like Ronco; set it and forget it. (chuckling) If you know what I mean. (Blair laughs)

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    TOM: That website, Stonecare, has a product called Kitchen/Foyer Stone Floor Kit which is specifically designed for granite. I’m just noticing it right now.

    BLAIR: OK.

    TOM: Alright? And it has the – it has all the cleaner and the sealer you need.

    BLAIR: Cool. Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

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

    LESLIE: It’s like the great deception.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: It’s like yay, granite! It’s awesome.

    TOM: Yeah, well …

    LESLIE: And then you’re like why is this sharp and jagged on the edge of my countertop. Oh, I need to seal it.

    TOM: It’s kind of like concrete. It doesn’t wear out but it doesn’t mean it always looks good either. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: Yeah.

    More great home improvement advice coming up when The Money Pit returns, including green. You know, it is a great holiday color but not when it’s growing on your walls. Up next, we’re going to tackle an e-mail question about how to rid your home of that unwanted holiday color also known as mold, folks, when we get back.

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

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and if you’re like me, when the holiday season rolls around I know you have been looking forward to some really super-awesome gifts. But regardless of what your hopes and desires are …

    TOM: Uh-huh.

    LESLIE: … there is always that one or two gifts that seem to make their way to the back of the closet. Well, don’t …

    TOM: (chuckling) Or the back of the toolbox.

    LESLIE: Yeah, exactly. Well, don’t banish them there, folks. Why not return them for something that you’d really like instead. In fact, in our next Money Pit e-newsletter we’re going to tell you what you need to know about your many happy returns after the big holiday.

    TOM: And while you’re signing up for the Money Pit e-newsletter at MoneyPit.com, why don’t you click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question just like Carol did from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

    LESLIE: That’s right. Carol writes: ‘I have a green substance forming on an outside brick wall below the roof at every spot where the roof metal flashings meet. I had the flat roof recoated and new flashings done 18 months ago. A new roofer has said that there was no fabric installed by the prior roofer along this parapet wall and that there were cracks and openings in the parapet wall area. He doesn’t know what is causing this green slime on my brick wall but it seems to be getting worse. Do you have any ideas? Thank you so much for your help.’

    TOM: Couple of ideas. First of all, if you do, in fact, have cracks where the parapet wall meets the flat roof – and by the way, do you know what a parapet is? It’s the part of the roof on a flat roof that sticks up …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … and then the roof sort of segues into it.

    LESLIE: Yes.

    TOM: Sort of like the knee wall. And it’s a really hard place to flash. I mean it really is difficult. So if, in fact …

    LESLIE: Well, that’s why, so many times, you see tar just slapped all over it.

    TOM: Exactly. Which is not the best thing to do. So, I mean if you happen to have a really good roofer – and I mean a guy who’s really being honest with you because so few homeowners go up there you don’t know what to expect – and he’s spotting that the flashing is not done correctly then, in fact, you may need to repair this. In terms of the green, I suspect that it’s simply moss that’s forming on the outside …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … of that wall and that’s not something that’s going to damage the brick. It’s something that’s simply going to be …

    LESLIE: It’s just unsightly.

    TOM: It’s unsightly. So you could mix up a Clorox and water solution and apply it to that moss area. And an easy way to do this, by the way, is with a power washer. You can mix up the Clorox and put it into the detergent side of this. Spray it down, let it sit for 10, 15 minutes and then sort of blast the rest off. That will take it off once and for all and you can get an idea as to whether or not – how fast it’s growing back after that. And by the way, the reason it seems to be growing faster is because it’s a bigger mass and the damper it gets it just keeps – it’s like a bush, you know?

    LESLIE: Oh, yeah.

    TOM: It’s never going to get smaller. It’s going to continue to grow. So that’s what’s causing that, Carol. So I wouldn’t be too freaked out about the moss. It’s pretty common. Not going to hurt the brick. But, if you do, in fact, have cracks in that parapet flashing you definitely need to get that fixed.

    LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got another here from Sally and I’m probably going to butcher the name of where she’s from – Manistee, Michigan. ‘Our water heater is a long way from the kitchen sink and dishwasher. We’d like to put something inline, under the sink or in the basement to give us hot water until the hot water from the water heater reaches the sink.’ (Tom chuckles) ‘What do you suggest?’

    TOM: Well, it’s difficult to put something inline to sort of help it along. I mean you can take a conventional water heater and add a circulating pump to it but it’s very wasteful. A better idea, Sally, would be to split your domestic hot water into two zones and install a tankless water heater closer to the kitchen. A tankless water heater with a shorter distance will have less time for you to have to wait for that water to get hot and it’s so small it can actually fit in a very, very tight space like even under a cabinet or a closet.

    If you want more tips, there’s a great website on tankless water heaters called SmarterHotWater.com. Will tell you all about them.

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us.

    Want to remind you that, especially these holiday times, you may find that you have a home improvement question at a very inconvenient moment like, you know, when the whole family shows up and your heating system conks out or the flushy thing no longer flushes (chuckling) with a house full of people. You can pick up the phone and call our help line 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Now, chances are we won’t be in the studio at that moment but we will call you back the next time we are and try to help you out.

    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 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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