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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 right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Call us right now at 888-666-3974. Hey, call us and tell us if your husband or wife did anything romantic for you in the home repair arena (Leslie chuckles) this past Valentine’s Day. You know, did they maybe redecorate a bedroom for you; something in that nature?

    LESLIE: Install that circular bed you’ve always dreamed of. (chuckles)

    TOM: Exactly. Maybe gave you a gift certificate for a Jacuzzi. You know, who knows. I think …

    TOM: That’s a fantastic gift.

    TOM: Right. You know? There are a lot of romantic home repairs that you can do. I mean a dimmer is a good place to start. But give us a call right now if you have a home improvement question. We’re here to help you out. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Coming up on today’s program, can you not stand the color of the ceramic tiles in your kitchen or your bath? Well, if redoing them is not an option, you can actually paint over them if you know the proper step-by-step tips to how to get it done. We’re going to tell you exactly what they are in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And also ahead, speaking of getting tired of the color of a certain thing in any area of your house, you know paint is great for lots of cheap tricks around the house like how would you like to raise or lower the appearance of your ceiling just by painting it a different color. Well, we’re going to tell you how to do just that in a little bit.

    TOM: Plus, we’ve got a few more tips to help you save money with the best way to use your washing machine; a simple trick, a simple technique that will cut down that clothes-washing cost.

    LESLIE: And speaking of saving you money, we are giving away a great prize this hour. We are giving you a chance to win an appliance that no kitchen should be without. We’ve got the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus four-cup food processor – folks, that is a hard one to say – so enter now for your chance to win.

    TOM: Yes, winning it is much easier than saying it. (Leslie laughs) 888-666-3974. Let’s get right to those phones.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Madeline on Long Island has a cleaning question. What can we do for you?

    MADELINE: Hi. I had a granite top put in my bathroom. It’s a dark-colored granite and around where the faucet and the knobs are, it’s almost like when they drilled the hole they created a crevice around it and there’s a white – and I’ve cleaned it with everything; I cannot get this white film off. And the granite top is brown.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm, so you see it.

    MADELINE: So it looks awful all the time.

    LESLIE: You know what, Madeline? I also live on Long Island, so I deal with a very similar situation in my kitchen. And what you’re seeing at the base of the knobs, that white sort of powdery residue that just doesn’t seem to clean up is actually mineral deposits and it’s probably from something that’s in our water and it’s just kicking around and sitting especially in that groove that you’ve got there. And what you need to clean it – and I tend to do this every time I pass and I notice it – is clean it with some white vinegar. And you can mix the white vinegar with water. It dilutes it a bit but it still works. Sometimes I just put some white vinegar on a sponge and just attack it there and it goes away. It will come back. It’s just sort of a maintenance issue.

    MADELINE: Oh, alright. I can deal with that then. Alright, thank …

    LESLIE: And you’ll notice it goes away immediately.

    MADELINE: Thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Greg in Utah needs some help finding about chimney cleaning and which fuel is more efficient. What can we do for you?

    GREG: I’m kind of out in the middle of nowhere …

    TOM: OK.

    GREG: … and we use coal and wood to heat our house and I was wondering which one is the worst on creosote.

    TOM: Oh, interesting question. I would think wood because there’s more moisture inside the wood when it burns and, hence, there’s going to be more condensation as a result of that and that’s what deposits the combustion materials on the outside of the chimney – or on the inside of the chimney, I should say. So I would think wood is going to burn dirtier than coal.

    GREG: OK, and then …

    TOM: In any event, Greg, you need to clean the chimney at least once a year if you’re going to make heavy use of it.

    GREG: Yeah, we use it everyday during the winter, so …

    TOM: Yeah, I think you definitely need to be looking at a chimney cleaning at least once a year. Probably at the start of the season is the best time to get it done and then maybe at least inspect it another month or two later.

    GREG: OK. Alright, appreciate it.

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

    LESLIE: Chance in Florida, welcome to The Money Pit. I understand you’ve got a hot tub question.

    CHANCE: Yes, I have a – it’s a 220 hot tub and I wanted to know if I could wire it into my outside – I live in a duplex …

    TOM: OK.

    CHANCE: … and I want to know if I can wire it directly into the AC unit outside of the house.

    TOM: The answer to that, Chance, would be no because the air conditioning compressor and the hot tub both need what’s called a dedicated circuit. In other words, the circuit has to go right from the appliance – be it the air conditioner or the hot tub – directly to a circuit breaker on the main panel. You cannot share one of the subpanels; in your situation that would be the subpanel that the air conditioner is already into. You cannot share that circuit. For one thing, you wouldn’t be able to run the air conditioner and the hot tub at the same time, but the other thing is it could be dangerous. So you have to direct wire or home run, as it’s called, the circuit right from the hot tub into the main electric panel.

    CHANCE: I understand.

    TOM: Very simple solution, not expensive, not difficult to do and if you’re not familiar with wiring do not do it yourself because you’re going to get hurt. Those are very big electrons, as opposed to the tiny ones that are in other parts of your house. You could get hurt. So I would get an electrician in there, put a dedicated circuit in and you will be good to go.

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

    Yes, some of the appliances have little, tiny electrons and some of them have really big ones that hurt.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) And those are all really big ones.

    TOM: Combined with a lack of knowledge of working inside of a panel. Not a good thing.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to hear what you’re working on. We are here to be your idea resource; plus we can help you get that job done right the first time. So give us a call 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, we’re going to have an inexpensive solution to an ugly problem. We’re going to tell you exactly how you can use paint to completely update the look of ceramic or glass tile.

    (theme song)

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show; your destination for home improvement solutions. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Give us a call right now. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. And if you ask us your home improvement or home repair question, we will toss your name into the Money Pit hardhat because one caller we talk to on the air this hour is going to win the Mini-Prep Plus four-cup food processor from Cuisinart. It comes in a stylish, brushed metallic finish and is the perfect size for a family kitchen. It’s worth 50 bucks. Going to go out to one caller who calls in their question this hour to 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: I tell you, I’ve got one of these and these little food processors, number one, they’re a great size. They’re perfect for making baby food. I steam all his vegetables. Well, Henry, when I say ‘him’; not my husband. I steam all the little guy’s vegetables and then I mix them up in the food processor. It’s super great. Even if you don’t have kids, you will use it for making fillings, chopping nuts. It really will be a super-useful utensil for your kitchen. So good luck. Get in on it and maybe we will help you win a fantastic prize, plus get your projects done.

    Now, while you’re thinking about your kitchen – because you’re dreaming about putting this appliance in there and you can picture that beautiful stainless steel against your tile backsplash and then you think (screeching sound), ‘I don’t really like my tile backsplash and it’s not currently in my budget to change it’ – well, a little paint could be a big trick to give your kitchen a brand, spanking new look.

    What you want to do is to get your tile ready to be prepped for the paint. You want to wash the surface with a 50/50 solution of household ammonia and water. Then, to get the surface prepped more, you need to clean the tiles with a mild acid solution. Now this is something that’s used to clean ceramic tile of excessive grout and it can be found at your local home center. Then you want to make sure that you rinse everything super well with plain water and let the surface dry thoroughly. And once it’s really dry and the grout is really dry – because you don’t want that to sort of wick up moisture, especially if you’re trying not to get paint on it; so just let everything dry really well – then go ahead and prime the tiles with a high-quality, adhesion-promoting primer like Zinsser’s Latex-Based Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer Sealer. You can also get that at your home center.

    TOM: Yeah, the primer is really key. It’s going to give you really excellent adhesion to the ceramic tile, the glass or any other type of hard-to-stick material. Now if the area is going to be subjected to a lot of water, such as in the tile or tub area, then I would use an alcohol-based primer for even more durability. There’s one that’s made by the Zinsser company, called Bin, that will work well. KILZ has a good product as well.

    After you prime, follow up with one or two coats of a high-quality-finish paint. Now a high-gloss finish is going to duplicate the look of the glazed tiles and your project will be fully cured in about two to three weeks. So you want to try to keep the water to a minimum until it’s cured. Because the surface is not going to absorb any of this, it really takes a little bit of extra cure time.

    And once it’s all done, it’s going to look great. You can enjoy it for a long time to come and that’s an improvement that you made for a fraction of the cost of the tear-out and replacement of those tiles.

    888-666-3974. Who’s next?

    LESLIE: Donna in Rhode Island needs some help with an insulation question. What can we do for you?

    DONNA: My bathroom – I went to look behind the plumbing because I wanted to put that insulation on the pipes and when I looked at it it’s all hollow in there, so there’s no insulation against the wall or underneath the tub. And I want to put something there because I feel like I’m taking a shower outside.

    LESLIE: Oh, no. (Tom chuckles)

    DONNA: I’m afraid to blow in insulation and [it stick] (ph) to the plumbing. I don’t want to put paper insulation and I can’t get the pink stuff there because it’s just a little opening like, I don’t know, 2’x3′ and the tub is really long and it goes back.

    TOM: Well now you – is this on an exterior wall, Donna?

    DONNA: Yes, yes.

    TOM: Hmm. Because typically on an exterior wall you would have some insulation. Well, listen. Probably the easiest thing to do here then is to blow in some insulation and if you can’t – if you don’t want to rent the big blowing machine, you could probably, if you can at least get your hand in there or your arm in there, you could essentially do it the hard way which is basically just to stuff it by hand full of the loose insulation. The other thing to do is right around those pipes you could use spray foam insulation like Great Stuff or something of that nature and use a very long straw on the outside of it so that you can sort of spray and it’ll expand and fill up the cavities.

    DONNA: Mm-hmm. Oh, OK. OK. Well, thank you.

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

    LESLIE: John in New Jersey needs some help with pipes to keep them from freezing. Tell us about what’s going on.

    JOHN: I just purchased a prefab home down the Jersey shore …


    JOHN: … and all the water pipes are made out of that plastic; there’s no copper.

    TOM: OK.

    JOHN: And there is a crawlspace that’s about 3.5 to 4 feet high and the pipes, when the builder put them in, they’re not insulated; they’re just like packed to the rafters on the bottom of the house.

    TOM: Alright.

    JOHN: But I was wondering – I want to insulate these pipes because right now I have the water off because it’s a summer home but I plan on moving there full time. So in the winter it does get quite cold down there and I’m a little nervous about the pipes freezing.

    TOM: Well, there’s no reason you can’t insulate the pipes and pipe insulation is fairly easy to use. It’s a foam insulation. It’s got a slit down it. You simply snap it around the pipes. So that’s kind of an easy project. It sounds like you have a high-enough crawlspace; it’ll be good for you to work down there.

    While you’re down there, John, I’d look into a couple of other things. I’d make sure that you have a plastic sheeting all across the soil so that you slow down the amount of vapor that’s going to wick up there and I’d take a look at that floor insulation and make sure that entire bay is filled with insulation so that you keep that floor as warm as possible.

    JOHN: OK, very good.

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

    LESLIE: Heading over to New Hampshire to chat with Richard about roofing. Let’s talk.

    RICHARD: Living in the northeast, my roof is really flat; not totally flat but I’m thinking of doing a metal roof and I was wondering what your opinion was on that.

    TOM: Think metal roofs are fantastic. They’re very durable but they’re very expensive. And they’re called investment-grade roofings because they do, literally, last a lifetime.

    LESLIE: And they’re really beautiful and it doesn’t always have to look like a standing theme. You can get one that looks like Spanish terracotta tiles. You can get one that looks like slate. They are pricy but they’re considered environmentally friendly because, depending on your roofing material that you have, if you were to go with a new material you might have to remove what’s existing; with a metal roof, because they’re so lightweight, you can leave what’s on your roof and then just go on top of it so you’re not sending all of that other material to the landfill.

    RICHARD: Yes. So is there any other alternative?

    TOM: There are a lot of alternatives. If it’s a low-slope roof – not totally flat but just a low-slope roof – there are a number of low-slope-roof materials that are available. They are available in some products that are like a combination of rubber and asphalt together. There are heat-down or heat-sealed roofs where basically it’s like a rubbery roof that’s heat-sealed together. So there are lots of different options, besides the metal roof, that will stand up in this situation.

    RICHARD: Well, I appreciate it very much.

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

    LESLIE: Dot in Wisconsin, welcome to The Money Pit. How can we help you with your leaky windows?

    DOT: Well, they keep advertising, on these programs, to get Polyseamseal but I can’t find it anywhere.

    TOM: You talking about the caulk?

    DOT: Yeah.

    TOM: Oh, that’s an excellent product. If you’re having trouble finding it locally, you might want to visit their website and call their customer service number. That number is 800-999-8920. That is the customer service main number for Polyseamseal.

    DOT: Wow. I appreciate your helping me out a lot.

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

    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better.

    Now paint is probably the cheapest way that you can change the look of lots of things around your house, including camouflaging those flaws.

    LESLIE: And if one of those flaws is that perhaps your ceiling is too low, well how would you like to use paint to raise the appearance of your ceiling? It’s all in your color choice, so stick around.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Therma-Tru Doors, the nation’s leading manufacturer of fiberglass entry and patio door systems. You can count on Therma-Tru for beautiful, reliable and easy-to-install entry doors. To learn more, visit ThermaTru.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.

    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to the Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    So if you’ve got a painting project on your agenda, pick up the phone, give us a call. Not only are you going to get a great chance to win a prize; we’re giving away a Cuisinart four-cup food processor. We’re going to give you the answer to your questions.

    And maybe you’re working on a painting project around your house. Everybody’s spending a lot more time in their homes. We’re all on budgets these days. Everybody is feeling it. So maybe you’re thinking about changing the look of your house and a good way to do it is with paint. Because paint color, and even the sheen of the paint that you choose, can influence your perception on size and width of a room. So when it’s time to dress up your walls, you want to make sure that you do it yourself and you do a great job of it and if you’re thinking of doing something unusual or maybe you’re thinking about a wall-covering technique, think about vertical stripes. You know they can make the ceiling of your room seem higher and so can using a bright, white paint.

    And even dramatic, high ceilings may cause your living space to feel too cavernous; you don’t know really where to say, ‘This is the ceiling line. What color do I paint this?’ If you want to visually lower that super-high ceiling, you can add a mid-to-deep hue on the ceiling which will help bring it down or go ahead and even paint horizontal stripes on the wall or decide where your ceiling height would be – eight feet, ten feet – add some crown moulding and paint the area below the crown moulding one color and, above, the ceiling color and continue that onto the ceiling and that will create a definite room. You can do it with paint and you can make it look great.

    TOM: Well, if painting and decorating is a project that you want to tackle soon, we’re going to have more tricks of the trade to fool the eye and change the perception of the rooms in your house in the next edition of our very own Money Pit e-newsletter which is free. You can sign up for it now at MoneyPit.com. No spam, we promise, and we’ll be sure to keep your e-mail address to ourselves.

    888-666-3974. Let’s get back to the phones.

    LESLIE: Alright, time to get in the kitchen with Craig in Florida. What can we do for you today?

    CRAIG: I have a Formica countertop in my kitchen. It’s only about two years old but several of the kids have chosen to use a knife to cut different things on it and there are four or five cuts on the edges and into it. It’s sort of almost white but it’s got little blue flecks and so forth in it. Is there any way to patch it?

    TOM: Laminate companies do have repair compounds but they kind of look like the touch-up paint that they used to give you for your car. It never quite looks …

    LESLIE: Which is terrible.

    TOM: It never quite looks right.

    CRAIG: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: You know? So I mean it’s a good, quick fix; especially since it’s only two years old. You know? And if you’ve got young kids that are just going to keep doing it, you might want to just sort of do that quick patching repair just to sort of get through it. I bet if you reached out to the manufacturer – in your case, if it is actually Formica reach out to them; but there’s Formica, there’s Lamin-Art, there’s Wilsonart. All of those folks do make those types of laminates. If not, you can easily, when your kids are more trained to use a cutting board (chuckles) …

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: … you can …

    CRAIG: Of course.

    TOM: Wait ’til the end of the counter-cutting stage.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: When you get to the end of that stage, then you can make a more permanent repair.

    LESLIE: Yeah, you can easily relaminate a countertop. I mean it’s not a hard project. All you need to do is pull out your sink and then what you would do is you would abrade the surface of the existing laminate countertop and then you would put contact cement on that surface and contact cement on the surface – on the backside of the laminate, the new one you’re putting in; let them get tacky and then go ahead and adhere the new to the old. And then you can use like – I usually a router to dip in and then cut out all of my sink areas and what other places that I need to inset something.

    CRAIG: OK. The kits that you mentioned, for the short term, where would I find those? At like Home Depots and those kinds of places?

    TOM: Craig, there’s a website called CabinetParts.com. CabinetParts.com. And on there you’ll find a product called Seamfil and that’s the product that you want to use to repair the cracks or the chips. It’s also used to fill in seams between sheets of Formica …

    CRAIG: OK.

    TOM: … but it works well on cracks, chips and other little imperfections in addition to the standardized joints.

    CRAIG: Terrific. It’s Cabinets – what’d you say? Cabinets what?

    TOM: CabinetParts.com and the product is Seamfil. It’s pretty inexpensive; about four bucks a tube.

    CRAIG: That sounds terrific. You guys are terrific and thank you and keep up the good work, guys.

    TOM: Well, you’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: You are tuned to the Money Pit where we are all about helping you get projects done right the first time and save money while you are doing those projects around your house.

    When we come back, you know we’re going to talk about something that we have all done. I actually just did it the other day before we sat into our studio. You go ahead and you throw a load of wash into your washing machine and then you run some errands so that your clothes are ready to hit the dryer when you get back. Well that’s not a great idea; so do as I say, not as I do.

    Up next, why you should never leave the house with your washer or your dryer running; so stick around.

    (theme song)

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, your solution for home improvement questions. Pick up the phone and give us one right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. We know there’s a project around your house that you’d like to tackle right now. We know it’s bugging you or maybe it’s your spouse that’s bugging you to get the project done. (Leslie chuckles) We will make you look good. Trust us. Call us now. 888-666-3974.

    LESLIE: That’s right and one of the ways we’re going to make you look good is that we’re going to give you the answer so you can whisk into your home and do that mega home repair project and make everybody happy again. But we also give you a chance to come in with a fantastic prize that you can say, ‘Look, I got you a gift.’ We are giving away a prize this hour that is going to be great for your kitchen in your money pit. It is a four-cup mini-chop food processor. It’s from our friends over at Cuisinart and it can make your kitchen look fantastic. It’s worth $50. You will be dicing and chopping and really cooking up some fantastic gourmet meals in no time, but you’ve got to be in it to win it. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Well, if you have as many kids as I do, you probably use that washer and dryer a lot. (Leslie chuckles) And actually, you probably use it a lot, too, Leslie and you’ve just got one little, tiny one.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Are you kidding? With the little guy? You do so much laundry.

    TOM: Well, here are some tips to help you save some energy while you’re using that washer and dryer and also use it safer.

    First of all, never just set it and forget it and leave your house or go to sleep with the washer running. You ought to be able to catch small problems like an unbalanced load before they cause bigger problems. Also, make sure that when you vent the dryer that you use metal venting. You don’t want to use the plastic venting because that can be a fire hazard. If you’re not sure what you have, take a peak behind that dryer with a flashlight. If you see that it has a plastic vent hose, replace it with a metal one. And you want to keep that vent as short as physically possible and also as straight as possible so that you don’t get clogs with lint. And also remember that you need to clean it once in a while. Otherwise, your dryer is going to end up like Leslie’s did; coughing out lint balls (Leslie chuckles) across her driveway, which can be kind of dangerous. So make sure you keep that …

    LESLIE: Tumble lint.

    TOM: Yeah, tumble lint. Like tumble weeds, right?

    Also, you want to make sure you keep an eye on those cords, the hoses, the vents of the washing machine. On that you want to use the braided steel hoses whenever possible because they don’t break down like the rubber ones do.

    Finally, make sure that you’ve got a one-knob, one-lever turn-off valve on that washer and dryer. Why? Because it’s a good idea to turn those lines off when you’re done with your wash; flip them back on when you’re ready to do another set of wash. Because this way if you ever get a hose break it will not leak out all over the floor, come down the ceiling and absolutely ruin your best day.

    LESLIE: Make a giant disaster.

    TOM: Yeah, you would need an umbrella (Leslie chuckles) on your first floor if that happened.

    888-666-3974. Call us right now with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. Let’s get to work.

    LESLIE: Alright, now we’re going to talk to Vivian who’s dealing with some frozen pipes. Tell us about it. How cold is it?

    VIVIAN: (chuckling) Hi there. You have a great program; I’ll say that first.

    TOM: Thank you, Vivian.

    VIVIAN: I have a rental property; second floor condo is my unit. Last weekend I had a frozen pipe just in the kitchen in the unit and it took three days for it to thaw out. I had a plumber there who worked feverishly but it still took that amount of time. Had to turn the water off.

    When he was finished, he suggested an electrical box that could be installed underneath the kitchen sink. I don’t know anything about it and haven’t been able to find anything about it and it is called AutoCirc.

    TOM: Now autocirc are pumps that are installed under the sink or the faucets that are farthest away from the water heater and what they do is they draw a slow stream of water throughout the plumbing lines. And I guess what your plumber is suggesting, that by putting in …

    LESLIE: Helping to recirculate the hot water through it?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s right. By recirculating – by circulating the water, you keep it moving it won’t freeze. A better solution is to figure out a better way to rerun the plumbing pipes so that they’re not exposed to as much temperature.

    VIVIAN: Right.

    TOM: The website, by the way, for that product is Autocirc.com. And there’s a good drawing there that tells you how the system works but basically it keeps the water moving through the lines. It’s designed for people that are tired of waiting a long time for hot water – you know, in the morning, for example – and it just has a small, circulating pump that does the trick.

    VIVIAN: OK, thank you so much.

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

    LESLIE: Tom, what happens – I mean why do we sometimes hear about pipes freezing and then thawing or pipes freezing ’til they burst? What sort of causes it? Is it a temperature thing? Is it a location?

    TOM: Well, what happens is in the pipes that burst, it’s more common to have a hot water pipe than a cold water pipe and here’s why. When you have water that goes through the hot water heater, it takes some of the air out of it – cold water has more air entrained in it than hot water – so that when the water expands it really, really expands. It doesn’t compress; it expands and it rips the pipe open. So hot water pipes are more likely to freeze and burst than cold water pipes for that very reason. And in this situation, keeping that hot water pipe moving might help the situation in terms of not allowing it to freeze, but it doesn’t address the cold water pipe which will still freeze …

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: … and still not run.

    LESLIE: Interesting. But not burst.

    TOM: But – well, not as likely to burst.

    LESLIE: Not as likely to. Gosh.

    TOM: Gets cold enough, they’re all going to burst.

    LESLIE: My goodness. Alright, well I hope that helps Vivian.

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

    Up next, have you been paying some high heating bills? We’re going to give you one trick of the trade that will knock ten percent off that heating bill by next month, so stick around.

    (theme song)

    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 all about saving you money; so much so that I post a new money-saving blog regularly now on WalletPop.com. You should check out some of my latest posts, including how to claim those energy-efficient tax credits. Now is the time to get all of that stuff lined up before you have to …

    LESLIE: Ooh, you’re unraveling the mystery; sorting it all out?

    TOM: Yeah, before you have to file those dreaded tax returns in a couple of months, there’s actually some money that you can get back if you’ve done any energy-saving improvements this year. And I give you the step-by-step on my blog post on WalletPop.com.

    LESLIE: Alright. And we call it WalletPop because you’re going to be saving so much money it’s going to make your wallet burst open; is that the whole story behind that, Tom?

    TOM: You know, I’m not exactly sure but I’ll go with that.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) I think that’s a good one. (Tom chuckles) So while you’re checking out Tom’s blog, head over to MoneyPit.com and e-mail us your question and we get into those at this time in every Money Pit and what we’re doing now is we’re going to answer one from John in East Northport, New York who writes: ‘Does it make any difference in setting the temperature lower at night and then having the setting up for breakfast? I would think that a constant temperature all day and all night long would be more economical, considering heat has built up in the house’s mass.’

    TOM: It’s actually only economical, John, if you have a heat pump as opposed to a gas, oil or propane furnace or boiler. The reason for that is because when you have a heat pump you essentially have what is like an air conditioning compressor that runs in the reverse cycle – that’s how you get the heat – but it only maintains a two-degree difference between the set temperature and the called-for temperature. So in other words, if you set the temperature at 72, if it falls to 70 the heat pump kicks on. If it falls to 69, what happens is the electric resistance heat kicks on and that is very, very expensive to run.

    Now, as for the fossil-fueled furniture boiler – the gas, the oil, the propane – no, for those types of systems it absolutely makes sense to have a programmable thermostat and it will actually cut your heating cost by ten percent. Just that one improvement will cut it by ten percent. Just make sure you set it properly. You’ll want to have it go down when you’re sleeping at night and tucked under those covers. You don’t need it set very high then. And it can come up an hour or so before you get out of bed and then go back down while you’re at work. So couple of easy improvements that way can really save a lot of money on the heating bill.

    LESLIE: Alright, now we’ve got one from Stewart in Georgia who writes: ‘We’re redoing the floors and we pulled vinyl sheet flooring in the kitchen but left the glue and paper backing stuck to the floor. To get ready for the new flooring, some people have advised us to thinset over everything and put a wood or ceramic floor on top of that. Others say the floor should be scored with a floor grinding machine. We’re worried about the level of the floor in relation to countertops, baseboards, appliances, et cetera. What’s our best option?’

    TOM: Well, the answer depends on what kind of flooring you’re going to put back down again. If you’re going to put vinyl flooring down, you’re going to have to put probably luan plywood down, an underlayment, to make it nice and smooth and flat because, otherwise, you’ll see every, you know …

    LESLIE: You’ll see all that through the sheet product.

    TOM: Yeah, you’ll see a little wart underneath it. Probably the best floor to use in your situation, if you have somewhat of an uneven surface, would be laminate floor, Stewart. Laminate floor is gorgeous, it’s durable, it’s easy to install; practically a do-it-yourself project. And the way you avoid the height issue, make sure you take the dishwasher out; floor under that space then adjust the dishwasher’s legs and slip it back in and you’ll be good to go.

    LESLIE: Alright, Stewart. Hope that helps.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We hope that you learned a little trick, a little technique, a little tip to help make your money pit much more comfortable and perhaps we gave you something that will put you in the money pit prevention business because that’s what this show is all about; giving you the home improvement solutions you need to save money and be more comfortable in your home.

    I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Helping you build big dreams.

    (theme song)


    (Copyright 2009 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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