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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. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. Hey, have you been feeling too hot? Have you been feeling too cold? Well, you know, the right windows can really make a difference in the energy efficiency of your home. That’s why on today’s show we’re going to tell you exactly what to look for if you’re window shopping.

    LESLIE: Plus, satellite TV, it’s great when the dish is working. We’re going to have a couple of easy tips to make sure your reception is coming in loud and clear.

    TOM: And you know, sometimes the toughest part of a home improvement project for hire is finding someone you can trust to do it. The first place you will most likely turn to is friends or relatives for recommendations. But what if your friends or your relatives don’t really have any recommendations? They haven’t really had the need to use a contractor? Well, there is a whole new set of friends that are forming online. It’s a big online family and they are now sharing experiences about construction pros; including rating the pros in your area. We’re going to tell you about it …

    LESLIE: Yeah, and it’s good and bad ratings, too. They’re not holding back.

    TOM: We’re going to tell you about it in just a bit.

    LESLIE: And we’re giving away a Ryobi 10-inch laser compound mitre saw. It’s worth 145 bucks. This is a pretty nice piece of equipment and it’s going to help you do all sorts of really cool projects around the house. But you’ve got to be in it to win it.

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

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Sean in Georgia’s looking for some flooring advice. How can we help?

    SEAN: Hi. I wanted to ask you a question. I want to put down hardwood on top of concrete.


    TOM: OK.

    SEAN: Right? Now, when I put the hardwood down – now, naturally, to put the hardwood I need some adhesive.

    TOM: Sean, stop right there because it’s not a good idea to put solid hardwood down over concrete.

    SEAN: Oh, it’s not a good idea.

    LESLIE: Uh-uh. You’re dealing with a lot of moisture.

    SEAN: OK, can we put the plywood on the concrete?

    LESLIE: No, we’re going to give you a better solution.

    SEAN: OK.

    TOM: It’s called engineered hardwood.

    SEAN: Engineered hardwood.

    TOM: Right. And it’s a type of hardwood that’s made up of different layers of wood where each layer is at 90 degrees opposed to the other. You know how plywood is made of different layers?

    SEAN: Yes.

    TOM: Well it’s like plywood but it’s fancy plywood …

    SEAN: Oh, OK.

    TOM: … and it looks just like a regular hardwood floor when you’re done, but it’s dimensionally stable. And that type of engineered hardwood can go on top of a concrete surface. And the good news is you don’t even have to put a plywood subfloor down because these boards can lock together and basically lay flat and all you need to do is trim around the edge. And some of them have underlayments; special underlayments. But they’re more like a foam underlayment that gets rolled out underneath.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm, it’s like a rolled up foam. And some of them are even made for noise, for warmth. There’s a lot of different levels of types of this foam underlayment. You just want to make sure you buy the right one for the type of floor that you’re using and the type of floor you’re putting it on top of.

    SEAN: Oh, OK. Now, do I have to seal the concrete?

    TOM: No. The other decision you’ll have to make is about the durability of the floor. The floor surfaces have different durability levels. Some of them are designed for like commercial grade, residential grade. Take a look at that because it does make a big difference in terms of how it stays up. And I would tell you to buy the best one that you can afford.

    SEAN: Oh, wonderful. Thank you so much.

    TOM: You’re welcome.

    SEAN: I appreciate that.

    TOM: Sean, thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Roger in Iowa’s feeling the summer heat. How can we help you keep cool?

    ROGER: Well, I have a house that was built in the late 70s and it’s got electric heat in it. And we’ve tried some window air conditioners but they just don’t work very well. And I wonder what’s out there. I’ve heard of some units that go on the wall, perhaps, but what can I do with a house that doesn’t have any duct work?

    TOM: Well, yeah, you’re probably talking about a split system. I have, actually, one of those in my office. It’s called a – it’s a Fujitsu split system. And basically the air handler is mounted on the wall inside the house. And it’s a large, flat kind of a panel. Looks like the front of an air conditioner. And then there’s a refrigerant line that goes from there through the wall and out to the compressor. Those are going to be more expensive, if you have to put a bunch of them in, than putting in a central system. But that’s one way to cool a fairly large area of your house. Is that what you’re thinking of?

    ROGER: Well again, is there something where they have a unit outside and then you could add these different units in different rooms as you need them?

    TOM: No.

    ROGER: Is that …

    TOM: Because every one of these units has to have its own compressor.

    ROGER: I see.

    TOM: It’s a small compressor compared to a standard system but it is a compressor.

    ROGER: Ah, OK. So there’s nothing that I can go with some sort of outdoor unit and then just handling units in the house then.

    TOM: No, because they have to be – they have to be connected via a refrigerant line to the compressor. Because what happens is the – you know, the refrigerant line changes from a gas state to a liquid state and that’s how the cooling process happens. It runs through a coil outside and inside.

    ROGER: OK.

    TOM: And inside it condenses. Outside it expands. And that’s why it has to, basically, have its own compressor.

    ROGER: Any idea of what one of those units costs?

    TOM: Probably somewhere in the $3,000 to $4,000 range installed.

    ROGER: OK. I guess that’s what I need to know.

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

    LESLIE: Going to Ohio to talk to Linda. What can we do for you today?

    LINDA: Hi. I have a problem with my two garage door openers that are on the same circuit. And every time there’s a storm they turn off.

    TOM: Hmm. The garage door opener keeps tripping?

    LINDA: Yes.

    TOM: But only when there’s a storm?

    LINDA: Just when there’s been a storm, mm-hmm.

    TOM: Got to be a short somewhere. I suspect that water might be getting into the line and that could be causing the short. And generally, if the circuit is tripping it’s doing it for a reason and it’s doing it because it’s designed to go off so that it doesn’t cause a fire. So I suspect that you may be getting some water perhaps even into the electrical panel itself. Have you had an electrician check your panel?

    LINDA: No, I haven’t. It’s – but it is down on a basement wall which is not next to the ground though.

    TOM: Yeah, but you know what happens? There’s a service entry cable that comes into the panel and very often the water will follow the service entry cable into the panel. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened up panels and found them to be rusted out on the inside.

    LINDA: Oh, OK.

    TOM: So you need to get this tracked down because if there’s a short then it needs to get fixed. I think the problem is more likely to be in not the garage door openers themselves but somewhere else in the circuit that’s causing this issue.

    LINDA: OK. Well …

    TOM: And it could be unsafe so you’ve got to get it checked out. It could be a bad breaker so it’s got to be checked out.

    LINDA: OK. Well, thank you very much.

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

    LESLIE: You are tuned into The Money Pit.

    Hey, are you looking for ways to increase your home’s value? Well, we can help you with that. Just call in 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.

    Up next, are you one of the millions of folks that gets their television, perhaps their internet through a satellite dish? Well, you know, they can provide a wide range of programming but maintaining does require some fine tuning. We’re going to give you some tips on how to do just that, next.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: AARP is proud to sponsor The Money Pit. Visit www.AARP.org/HomeDesign to learn more about making your home more functional and comfortable for years to come.

    TOM: Making good homes better, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: And if you call us right now – I mean right now – at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, one caller to the show is going to win a great prize. It’s a Ryobi 10-inch laser compound mitre saw worth 145 bucks. I love this laser feature because it’s got this exact line laser alignment system, which …

    LESLIE: It’s pretty high-tech.

    TOM: Yeah, it shows you exactly where you’re going to cut. So whether you’re cutting a regular – say you’re cutting a 90 or a 45 or a compound mitre cut, this line’s going to like sort of bounce right down and show you where the blade’s going to hit the wood. So it makes it a lot easier to line it up. If you want to win it you’ve got to call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. All callers to The Money Pit are going to get their names tossed into the Money Pit hardhat. We will draw one name out at the end of today’s program and that could be you.

    LESLIE: And we know everybody loves winning, but don’t be too disappointed if you don’t win today because there is a great deal going on right now at your local Home Depot. If you buy any Ryobi mitre saw and a mitre saw QuickSTAND you get 50 bucks off your purchase. So you can buy a whole lot more than you thought so.

    TOM: So call us now if you want a shot at winning that great prize at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Meanwhile, let’s talk about satellite dishes. You know, there are a few channels of maintenance, so to speak, to watch for. We’ve had a lot of really strong winds this summer and they can move satellite dishes out of alignment. And also the lines can become damaged or even waterlogged. It’s going to give you pretty bad reception. If you tune into these details your satellite reception is going to be crystal clear. You got a question, call us. We will try to give you a crystal clear answer at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Al in California’s looking to paint some cabinets. How can we help?

    AL: I had some custom cabinets made for my kitchen and they’re made out of oak. And right now they’re on the raw stage. And I wanted to know – because I want to leave the neutral color.

    TOM: OK.

    AL: And I wanted to know what advice would you have for me to seal them or how to go about or what would be the first step. Because right now I’m sanding the cabinets.

    TOM: OK, and you want to leave them as a natural cabinet, Al?

    AL: Yes, uh-uh.

    TOM: Great. So, after you get done sanding them and getting rid of all the dust, I would apply a sanding sealer.

    AL: OK.

    TOM: Because that will fill up the pores and seal in all of the dust that may be still in there. And you can lightly sand on top of that with like a 400-grit sandpaper.

    AL: OK.

    TOM: And after the sanding sealer then you’re going to want to coat those with a urethane.

    AL: Very good.

    TOM: And the best way to do that is to take the doors off, take the drawers out, try to work on the boxes when they’re on the – obviously when they’re installed.

    AL: Uh-huh.

    TOM: And then work on everything else when it’s flat. Be very careful with the amount of dust in the area. Put on thin coats and put on several of them. And don’t use water-based urethane. Use oil-base. It’s far more durable.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And it’s not going to yellow like you would with the water-based ones; especially in a kitchen situation.

    AL: Very good. Now, let me ask you this. How do I get that furniture finish when you touch them afterwards?

    TOM: Well, I’ll give you one trick of the trade. After the cabinets are all dried …

    AL: Uh-huh.

    TOM: … get some steel wool and some floor wax; floor paste wax. Take the steel wool, dampen it ever so slightly and use the steel wool to apply the wax to the cabinets. The steel wool will sort of very lightly abrade whatever roughness is left on the surface …

    AL: OK.

    TOM: … and it’ll get that wax really into the finish. And then when you buff that, that will give you the appearance of a hand-rubbed finish.

    AL: Thank you kindly and I really enjoy your show. And you’ve guys have got, oh, a beautiful show.

    TOM: Alright, thank you, Al.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Thanks, Al.

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

    I used to use that wax/steel wool trick all the time when I built furniture.

    LESLIE: Really?

    TOM: Because – yeah, because you know, the right way to do it is with an oil and wax buildup; like a French oil kind of a polish.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. Because it almost looks like – especially when you get a fine piece of wood furniture …

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    LESLIE: … it almost looks like there – it’s like a clear, floating finish.

    TOM: Right, exactly. But that takes hours and hours and hours to do that.

    LESLIE: Oh, I’m sure.

    TOM: But if you use urethane and use the wax as the last step, it looks almost the same and it stands up even better.

    LESLIE: Alright, Katrina in Virginia has a home improvement emergency she needs to know. Right now she’s at the airport. Katrina, what’s going on with this small room and how can we help make it look bigger? What’s happening?

    KATRINA: We just bought a 1940s older home and it has several small rooms. We put in chair railing and crown moulding. And I’m – I want the rooms to look bigger. So I’m wondering about painting. Should everything be white or – because I’m a white person; lots of antiques. I like white walls. But I thought, well, maybe put some dark color or a little darker color below the chair railings to make it look larger. Help me out.

    LESLIE: Well, I think the chair railing and the moulding are a great effort to make the room seem taller. That’s going to definitely make it feel like you’ve got a lot of ceiling height in there because you’re adding all these elements that make it grow up. I think with color, especially since you’re kind of shy of color, if you put the color to the upper portion of the wainscoting it’s going to draw your eye upward and again make that sense that it’s growing taller as well.

    You can do a lot with mirrors. You can do a lot with furniture placement. If you keep the furniture all in scale to one another and to the space it can also make the room feel a lot larger. I say don’t be afraid of color. And if you’re too scared of using it in a ton of places, use it just below the wainscoting. And also, if you go crazy overboard with the color and put the same color on the ceiling and the walls, instead of making it feel enclosed in it can actually make it feel a lot larger.

    TOM: And Katrina, here’s one other little trick of the trade with color that you can do. You can use paint to create the – what is, in effect, sort of a coffered ceiling. If you measure down from the ceiling onto the walls about anywhere from eight to 12 inches and tape that off and then bring the ceiling color down just that first eight to 12 inches so now when you’re standing in the room the ceiling color actually sort of tapers down the wall a bit and then the color starts below that, that gives the effect of the ceiling being a lot higher than it actually is.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. But in that case you would want the crown moulding to start 10 or 12 inches down the wall.

    TOM: And use a piece of moulding to create the seam.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: Yep.

    KATRINA: Oh, OK. Alright, the crown’s already up and it’s about, oh, probably six inches below the ceiling.

    TOM: Well, in that case you can use the same color and start with the crown and go right up across the ceiling. I think that will give you a lot of height.

    KATRINA: OK. Alright. OK. Excellent.

    TOM: Katrina, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Talking floors with James in Tennessee. How can we help?

    JAMES: I have a concrete floor here which originally had linoleum on it.

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    JAMES: I removed the linoleum (INAUDIBLE) paper residue and glue residue. And I can obviously get that up with some elbow grease. But I was hoping to find somewhat easier and especially get the glue residue up because I would like to, in the future, acid stain it.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    JAMES: And I was wondering if you guys had any good advice for me.

    TOM: Well, acid stain can have somewhat of an unpredictable result; especially when you’ve had previous chemicals on the concrete surface. So even if you are able to get most of that glue up, the porosity of the concrete surface is going to be different because you’re not going to be able to get all the glue out of the surface that’s sort of soaked into it. And Leslie, I’d be concerned about that having some sort of blotchy affects on the acid staining.

    LESLIE: Well, first let’s talk about getting the glue off. There’s a lot of chemicals out there that you can put onto it; you know, glues, solvent dissolvers that they’re kind of stinky and you still are going to have to do a ton of elbow work just to get the glue up. You know, a lot of scraping. But it’ll eventually come up.

    And then, acid staining. There’s actually a great website and it’s ConcreteNetwork.com; all one word. ConcreteNetwork.com. And it explains to you the process of staining concrete; acid staining; you know, what goes into it. And really most acid stains are a mixture of water, hydrochloric acid and an acid soluble metallic salt. And they all sort of work together to penetrate the surface and then react chemically with the lime and the concrete to change the color. And it might break through all of that glue and stuff that you have on there; anything that sort of is sticking on there once you get off the visible residue. So it might work. You know, and there are dyes that you can put in to get different colors. But I would say test it on an area first just to make sure it doesn’t oddly with the remnants of the glue that’s on there.

    And the Concrete Network, they have a great resource there as to where you can get all the materials, inspiration photos. And even if you choose that it’s not something you want to do yourself, they can recommend a contractor.

    TOM: James, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: Alright, well Tom says coast to coast and floorboards to shingles. Joining us from New Mexico and listening in on WABC.com we’ve got Carolyn who’s got a sticky window. What’s going on?

    CAROLYN: I do have a sticky window in a 70-year-old tenant’s house that I – no, I don’t want to break the window. How do I get it open?

    TOM: Alright, here’s what you do. First of all, go outside and – go out and get yourself a putty knife. You know what that is?

    CAROLYN: Yes.

    TOM: Alright. And you want to work the putty knife in between the window sash and the window jamb all the way around.


    TOM: If it’s a 70-year-old window you can bet that there’s paint that’s making it stick. So, even tap it in there lightly with a hammer if you have to and wiggle it back and forth. Work that all the way around; including the space between the upper sash and the lower sash. Then gently try to open the window.

    Now, if that still doesn’t work I’m going to give you another trick of the trade.


    TOM: Take a block of the – take a block of wood and put it over the lower window on the outside edge where the frame comes together, on the corner …


    TOM: … and tap – you’re using the block of the wood to protect the window from the hammer. And then tap the window down, as if you’re making it tighter; as if you’re closing it tighter. A couple of quick raps on both corners, that tends to break the paint seal. And it’s counter-intuitive because you think, ‘Well, I want to open the window. Don’t I want to tap it up?’ No.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) Why should I close it more?

    TOM: Right. Because what happens, you’ll separate the actual frame of the glass. But if you tap it down, a couple of quick raps, it’ll break that paint seal and it should open right up.

    CAROLYN: Well, great. I’ll sure try that. Thank you so much.

    TOM: Alright, give it a shot. You’re welcome, Carolyn. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Up next, one stop shopping for a professional to take on any project you’re hiring for. From floors to roofs to everything in between, we’re going to tell you about a new online service that helps you find a good, qualified pro as measured by millions of people that have worked with them before.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of the Money Pit is brought to you by Behr’s lineup of premium solid and semi-transparent weatherproofing wood stains with advanced NanoGuard technology which offer ultimate durability and wood protection. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com.

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Call us now with your home improvement question. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    Alright, so you’ve got that home improvement project all picked out. You know you want to hire a pro. You picked out all of those design materials. And suddenly that seems like it was the easy part because sometimes the toughest part about hiring a pro is how do you find that someone that you can trust to do a great job.

    TOM: Well, a great way is to get referrals from friends and neighbors. And now there’s actually a more comprehensive way to do just that. It’s called Angie’s List and it’s a website for finding service pros. Angie Hicks is the founder and she joins us now with details on the site and how it works.

    Hi, Angie.

    ANGIE: Hi.

    TOM: So did you have a contractor experience that led you to form this service?

    ANGIE: Yeah, my cofounder actually did. He was trying to renovate a 1920s house about 12 years ago in Columbus, Ohio and [when he was] (ph) struggling to find good contractors, had a bad experience and, you know, we really thought there should be a better way for consumers to network and share experiences with one another.

    TOM: So this is sort of a social networking system.

    LESLIE: Yeah, what a great service.

    TOM: Tell us how it works.

    ANGIE: Well, what you can do is consumers can check Angie’s list to find out what local companies other consumers in the area have used and been happy with. So if you’re looking for a plumber or a roofer or a dog walker you can check the list and see which companies consumers have liked and which ones you might want to avoid based on other people’s experiences. And we have ratings on about 280 different categories; anything that has to do with home repair, lawn care, pet care, auto mechanics; just about any type of local service you can think of.

    LESLIE: But how do you know that Joe’s carpet cleaning isn’t going on saying that Joe’s carpet cleaning is awesome?

    ANGIE: That’s a great question. That’s one thing that really, you know, sets us apart. And first, only consumers can put companies on the list and you can’t report anonymously. You can’t just go and create a user name and password and start generating reports. Also, you can only report on a company once every six months. So you can’t sit there and stack the deck one way or the other.

    TOM: Oh, interesting.

    ANGIE: And then we actually have a team of people that review each and every report as it goes into the system. So they’re really good at checking for any kind of red flags or trends they’re seeing that need to be investigated.

    LESLIE: Wow, that’s great. So you’re really protecting the consumer. What does the consumer have to do for Angie’s List to be part of the whole system?

    ANGIE: Well, to be a part of the list – because companies don’t pay to be on the list – it’s consumer supported. Consumers pay $5.95 a month to be a member. That gives them unlimited access to the list, which they can access through our website or through our call-in service. We’re open six days a week so you can talk to a real person about home improvement woes. You also receive our magazine each month and we have a complaint resolution service. So if you have trouble with a company we’ll go to bat for you to help get it resolved.

    TOM: Have you ever had companies that were on the list and then were removed or just got such horrible ratings that they were taken off?

    ANGIE: Yeah, we have seen companies that their ratings have gone up and down. A company never leaves the list. Their rating might just fall. So a company could be on the list with an A rating or they could be on the list with an F rating. And, you know, the list can be a very good feedback mechanism for companies; you know, because they can get information earlier than they might otherwise and make adjustments. Because I’ve seen companies that have maybe hired a technician that wasn’t up to speed and they’ve made some adjustments and their grade started to come back up. So …

    LESLIE: Do you send reports to the companies to be like, ‘Hey, this is how your company is doing and this is what our members think’ or is it really at the responsibility of the company to check it out and see how they’re doing?

    ANGIE: Well, we let a company know when they get on the list and how they can check their reports. And then we – then a lot of companies are really passionate about it and check it regularly because it’s great feedback.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    ANGIE: Plus it tends to be a big portion of their business and it’s – you know, it’s neat because it’s based on the quality of their work. It’s nothing they’re paying to generate. So they’re very proud of how they’re doing and want to make sure they protect that because this is a magnified word-of-mouth business for them as well.

    TOM: Angie, do you ever find that the companies sort of market their customers to say, ‘Hey, if you’re happy with us please go on to Angie’s list or join Angie’s list and, you know, place a rating for us’?

    ANGIE: You know, companies do remind consumers to report and we actively remind consumers to report. I mean we get probably 20,000 or more reports each and every month. So the ratings are constantly being updated.

    LESLIE: Wow.

    ANGIE: And you know, the consumer, when you check the list, we’ll check back with you and make sure that you were able to find what you were looking for and encourage you to report. And you know, it’s a really neat phenomenon because consumers really feel an obligation to report, which (Leslie chuckles) is neat because that’s what makes the list what it is.

    LESLIE: Everybody loves to share their stories.

    ANGIE: They do, they do. People are passionate about it.

    TOM: Do you ever get groups of or certain types of industries that consistently score low or score high?

    ANGIE: You know, we – at the – each year we’ll look at kind of what categories have had the highest percentage of low grades and the highest percentage of high grades. It’s really interesting. You know, some of the – it’s been, you know, in the last year or so it’s been some of the bigger projects that have had a more difficult time. I think part of it is just the complexity of the project.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    ANGIE: There’s just more room for things to go wrong and usually what I find when I look at kind of companies with – or categories with the highest percentage of As in a year, it’s usually – it’s (INAUDIBLE) the personal services. So, yeah, things like organization companies and things like that …

    LESLIE: Oh, interesting.

    ANGIE: … that, you know, I think part of it’s because people just get such a strong relationship with the person because it’s obviously such a personal service.

    TOM: Well, we find that communication is really what creates a good environment or a bad environment; especially when it comes to contractors because …

    LESLIE: And a good or bad experience.

    TOM: Yeah, because …

    ANGIE: (overlapping voices) You’re exactly right.

    TOM: Yeah, because the contractors – if the contractors are communicating well with their client and everyone – their expectations are aligned, then it’s – the project’s going to come out good. When the expectations get out of alignment that’s when the issue arises.

    ANGIE: That’s right. I always encourage consumers that, you know, they should be in communication, especially on a big project, every day with their contractor. And let them know as soon as they see something they don’t like. You know, don’t wait a day because then it just becomes more expensive to fix. And you know, we’re not – none of us are mind readers so we can’t automatically know exactly what the other is thinking.

    TOM: Good point.

    Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s list, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit. It’s a great service.

    ANGIE: Thank you.

    LESLIE: Hey Tom, you know, one of the top ten topics of questions we get here at The Money Pit is windows. And in fact, the right replacement windows can actually make a big difference in your energy savings. Up next, we’re going to tell you how to choose ones that are going to make the biggest impact for you, your wallet and the environment. So stick around.

    (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 to ask your home improvement question. Let us help you solve your do-it-yourself dilemma. Two things will happen. We’ll try our best to give you the answer to that home improvement question and we’re going to give you a shot at winning a great prize because this hour we’ve got the Ryobi 10-inch laser compound mitre saw to give away. It’s worth 145 bucks and it’s a pretty cool tool. The saw’s got an electric brake to stop the blade in seconds. It’s perfect for crown moulding, for baseboards and other mitering jobs. The number again, 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    And if you don’t happen to win you can still get in on a great deal right now at your nearest Home Depot because if you buy any Ryobi mitre saw and a mitre saw QuickSTAND you’ll get 50 bucks off your purchase. So how about that?

    LESLIE: Alright, that’s pretty cool.

    TOM: You know, before the break we were talking about how windows can improve your home’s efficiency year round. And if you’re in the market for some new windows you might be overwhelmed at how many choices are out there. So how can you be sure to pick out the best windows for your home? Well, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy offers these recommendations.

    U value – as in the letter U value – is a window’s ability to insulate and the amount of solar energy it transmits is called the solar heat gain coefficient. You know, they’re fancy terms but if you only have to remember that the lower the U value and the SHGC – the solar heat gain coefficient – the more efficient the window.

    You know, you can purchase different glazings for windows on different sides of your home. For example, get the lowest U value windows you can afford on north facing windows. And then look for windows with double panes, low-e coatings, low conductivity gas fill between panes and wood, vinyl or fiberglass frames. All great choices for windows.

    TOM: And no matter which windows you go with, make sure they’re installed correctly. You want to use a premium self-adhered flashing material. No longer are we relying on metal flashing because it just leaks. You want to use a good premium self-adhered. It’s like a sticky flashing. Like we like Grace Vycor Plus because it provides exterior protection against water, air, moisture leaks. It basically works by sealing a wall’s vulnerable spots, like around the window and the door openings, which are really the toughest places to keep leak-free. You know, you can have a great window but if it leaks around the outside of it, where it’s installed to the house, then what good is it? So proper flashing is going to not only prevent those moisture leaks; it’ll also prevent air leaks that could sort of counter the original effects, which is to make your home as energy efficient, as comfortable as possible.

    If you want more information on the window installation, there’s a great website that you can check out. It is GraceAtHome.com. Or you can call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: David in Minnesota listens in on KDUZ and you’re thinking about building a deck resale value. Good idea with this soft market. How can we help?

    DAVID: Hi, yes. I was just curious between the pressurized lumber and cedar and some of the new composites. I’m leaning toward cedar but I wondered if there was a compelling reason that I should reconsider and go for some of the more expensive composite material.

    TOM: Well, if you’re a naturalist, I mean cedar is going to be the best insect-resistant material that you could probably choose. You know, cedar or …

    LESLIE: Ooh, it smells good.

    TOM: Yeah. Cedar …

    LESLIE: It’s beautiful. It has a beautiful grain pattern.

    TOM: Yeah, cedar or redwood. You know, if you really want to put some cash into it.

    DAVID: Yeah.

    TOM: But you know, that being said, you know, it does require a lot of maintenance. It’s going to gray; it’s going to need to be stained and sealed from time to time. And you know, if that – if you’re willing to take on that level of maintenance then I see no reason to do it. If you’d like something that is more maintenance-free you can use a standard pressure-treated frame and then use a composite decking surface and a composite railing system.

    DAVID: So the composite decking, that’s – you know, over time now, in the last several years, those don’t fade either or warp or anything like that?

    TOM: No.

    DAVID: I mean they’re pretty solid?

    TOM: No, they don’t at all. In fact, Trex – which has been around now for more than 10 years – is used in a lot of the national parks and I know – I live in the northeast, in the New York City area, and I’ve seen it here on the boardwalks against the shore.

    LESLIE: Mm-hmm.

    TOM: It’s been down for 10, 12 years now. Still looks like the same Trex that you find in the store.

    DAVID: Right. Well, if you did go with cedar – if I did – what – how often do you need to put a new coat of stain on it? I mean what’s the upkeep like? Every …

    LESLIE: Well, with cedar you have to make sure with any type of new lumber that you allow it a certain amount of time to cure in its environment before you actually finish it. I think with cedar it’s two years. You may want to double check that but I’m pretty sure with cedar it’s two years because you need to let it cure before you put anything on it; otherwise, it’s not going to stick. Then, after that curing time, you can go ahead and either seal it or stain it or put any sort of finish on top of it. You know, even if it’s just a clear stain should just allow the graining pattern to show through and to protect it.

    It’s going to be every three years; three to five years, depending on the product that you use and their manufacturer’s guarantee. But if you apply it correctly and you clean it seasonally and you use a cleanser and not just water and a pressure washer, if you use the proper materials you’ll really be able to properly maintain it over a long amount of time and it’s going to look beautiful.

    DAVID: OK. And well I guess my last question. There’s PVC out there as well, isn’t there? Or is that not really prevalent material anymore?

    TOM: Yes, there’s PVC – no, there is PVC decking available as well. Not very common but I have seen it at the trade shows. But I’ve not had any direct experience with it.

    DAVID: OK. Alright, well that Trex sounds like a pretty good way to go. I appreciate your ideas there.

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

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

    Hey, do you have peeling paint? I know, it’s a problem. You can share it with us. Well, we’re going to have the solution to that flaky problem, 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: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show where we make good homes better. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    And hey, how many of you out there love showing your favorite baseball team some love out there? Maybe you’re walking around in your Yankees jersey or whomever you love – we’re not going to pick sides here.

    TOM: I showed some love to my favorite baseball team. The Money Pit sponsored the local little league and it was so cute …

    LESLIE: Oh, how cute!

    TOM: … to see all the little eight and nine-year-olds running about with Money Pit t-shirts on. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: What’s their name? What’s the team name?

    TOM: The Pirates. Let’s root for the Money Pit Pirates. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: Oh, that’s excellent. Home improvement and Pirates. I love it. That could be like my new favorite team.

    But what about your favorite home improvement team? You know, team Money Pit. Why not show your team Money Pit how much you love them? Come on. Show us. We’ve got fanwear available. It’s online now. We’ve got your team colors proudly available on shirts, hats, mugs, even a Money Pit teddy bear that you can snuggle up with at night; everything that you could ever want plus some really fun t-shirts that have some clever and funny wordings on them. And you can check it all out at MoneyPit.com.

    TOM: 888-MONEY-PIT is the telephone number. MoneyPit.com is the website. While you’re there, why don’t you shoot us an e-mail question like David did in New Rochelle, New York? He says: ‘In our master bath the paint was peeling on an interior wall near the ceiling. The plumber came in and opened up the wall.’ Because that’s what plumbers do. They just open stuff up and look around. And surprise, surprise, Leslie, ‘He could not find any problem. A handyman came and closed up the wall and then repainted.’

    LESLIE: Notice the plumber did not close the wall.

    TOM: Right. Because they just open them up. They never close them back up.

    LESLIE: And they leave.

    TOM: ‘Lo and behold, within a few weeks the peeling started again and now it looks really bad. What could the cause be and what can we do about it?’

    LESLIE: Gosh, my first guess is moisture, moisture; too much.

    TOM: Peeling paint is always caused by a moisture problem. And I would suggest that somebody get up on the roof, David, and check out the vent pipe which comes from the toilet and the rest of the plumbing system up through the roof. And that vent pipe, that stack, is going to have a piece of flashing where it intersects with the roof. It usually looks like a piece of aluminum with a rubber boot around it. And I have seen, over all those years I spent as a professional home inspector, that piece of rubber completely disintegrate and then you get water that kind of runs down along the pipe and it will drop on that ceiling and cause that leak that you’re seeing in the ceiling.

    LESLIE: Is there a timeline you should really look into replacing that rubber boot portion or do you just wait til there’s a problem?

    TOM: Well, it’s part of every regular roof inspection and an easy way to do that is to inspect it from the ground with a pair of binoculars. Now, you can seal it temporarily with some roof cement but I would suggest replacing it because that’s going to give you a better long-term solution.

    And one more thing, David, when you finally get ready to repaint that again, make sure you prime it first; the entire ceiling. Because that’s going to really help that new paint adhere.

    LESLIE: Yeah, and do everything that you can to keep moisture down in the bath. If you’ve got an exhaust fan, run it. And run it for a good 20 minutes or so after you’ve completed your shower just to get that steam moving out of there. And really make sure that your exhaust fan is vented through the roof or your side of your house and not just venting into the attic space.

    TOM: That’s a good point. You know, exhaust fans can be hooked up to what’s called oc (ph) sensors or occupancy sensors so that they will come on automatically when someone walks into the bathroom and then go off. They can be set up to go off, you know, say maybe five minutes after you leave the bathroom. And that will make sure that the bathroom stays very, very dry.

    LESLIE: This way no one can say, ‘I forgot to turn it on.’

    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. Thank you so much for spending this hour with us. We have just about run out of time but before we go, right about now you’re probably getting pretty darn tired of paying those super-high summer electric bills. So …

    LESLIE: I know we are.

    TOM: I know. Man, the last one I got – whoo-hoo!

    LESLIE: It’s crazy. They get worse and worse.

    TOM: And not only does my power go out all the time. I seem to be paying more for it. (Leslie chuckles) So, coming up next week on the program, we’re going to tell you what you can start doing right away to cut the remainder of those summer utility bills and even save some money moving into the fall.

    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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