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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)

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    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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Look around your house. If you’re the kind of person likes to fix stuff that’s not broken, well, you’re one of us. So call us right now. We’ll help you get into some trouble. Or we’ll help you get some out-of-trouble (chuckling). If you’ve got some home improvement projects that you started that maybe aren’t going quite the way you planned, call us right now. 888-666-3974. We’re here to help you solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas.

    LESLIE: And we’re even here to help you make sure that your house isn’t broken into after you do all of that fantastic work to your home and make it exactly the house of your dreams. In fact, Money Pit listeners, are you aware that every eight seconds in America a home is burglarized? And the only thing that’s keeping the thief from breaking into your house is if your neighbor’s house is more appealing than yours. So you want to know how to make it harder for a thief to break into your home? Well, why not let someone else break into your home to find out exactly where the security breaches are.

    TOM: Yeah, you think we’re crazy? Well, there is an entire television show that does just that. It’s a hit show, it’s on TLC and it’s called It Takes a Thief. And every week, It Takes a Thief lets two professional burglars break in …

    LESLIE: They’re reformed. They’re reformed. (laughing)

    TOM: Reformed. Reformed, but professional. As honest a burglar as you could find (laughter) … break into your house. And then, they basically show the homeowners how they broke in and what they took and all of the security lapses in the house. And then they turn around and do a complete renovation/restoration – security restoration – to fix that house up. And guess what? They’re looking for new victims. Would you like to invite the It Takes a Thief burglar to break into your house and maybe be a part of their TV show?

    Well, coming up at the bottom of the hour, we’re going to talk to the show’s executive producer about what they’re looking for and how you could get involved.

    LESLIE: That’s right, folks. And this hour, we’re giving away a great prize. It’s the Weather Channel Storm Tracker Radio. It automatically alerts you to any upcoming weather threats that might be in your area. It’s a $40 value but it’s free if you call in now.

    TOM: 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. Our website, MoneyPit.com.

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: John in New Jersey’s looking for that green lawn that’ll give the neighbors envy. What can we do for you?

    JOHN: I use a weed n’ feed about three times a year and then, in between, what I do with the weed, I use a gun. I have a … I get clover popping up, you know, quite a bit. And I use a gun. Is that OK to do … go that way or is it better to do the whole lawn?

    TOM: You use a gun? (laughing)

    JOHN: Yeah, a spray gun. You know.

    TOM: (laughter) Oh, a spray gun. Well, you had … I know you’re from New Jersey. You had me worried a little bit. (laughing)

    JOHN: No. (laughing) No, not at all. (laughing)

    TOM: Well, John, it’s kind of hard to pinpoint exactly what you need to do without doing a simple test first and that is a soil test. But the good news is that the county extension service in your part of the country actually will do these tests. You basically go down to the county; you get the test; you collect soil; you send it away. And they’ll be able to tell you what the components of the soil are and exactly what type of fertilizer and what kind of other soil treatments you need to make sure that it’s performing properly.

    LESLIE: And then, John, if you’re going to spot treat with your … with your spray gun for any type of weeds that you have in the yard and you’re worried about overspray, take a two-liter bottle of soda – of course, an empty one – cut it in half and take it so that the pouring spout end, place that over the weed and then you can spray into the soda bottle with whatever sort of weed killer you’re using and you don’t have to worry about it getting on any of the other lawn or any of the other plants in the area.

    TOM: And we love that tip and we’ve learned it because we typically overspray and kill patches of grass that we’d rather not. (chuckling) So, do as we say; not as we do.

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

    LESLIE: Baxter in Rhode Island’s up next and you’ve got mold in the attic. Tell us what’s going on? Where do you see it?

    BAXTER: Oh, I don’t have mold. I’m just asking what to do to prevent it. I haven’t been up there and I was listening to one of your shows regarding preventing mold in the attic. My bathroom exhaust vent just goes into the attic but it doesn’t go all the way through the roof and I was just wondering if that’s a dangerous situation there for mold to occur.

    TOM: Here’s what you need to do, Baxter. First of all, you need to take that bath exhaust fan and make sure it is ducted completely out of the house; that means into the attic and then out from the attic to the exterior. Now, if you can’t get a hole in your exterior, the least you should do is have it pointing right at the edge of one of those exhaust vents in the gable walls of the building.

    The second thing that you might want to do is think about improving the roof ventilation by adding a ridge vent at the peak of the roof that goes up and down the roof and then, also, a soffit vent at the overhang. And the reason you’re doing that is because as the air pushes over that roof, it gets depressurized at the ridge so air will sort of suck out of the attic at the ridge and it’s pressurized at the soffit. So what’ll happen is the air will go in the soffit, under the roof sheathing and out the ridge.

    And what’s great about that system, when you have it installed, it’s working in the summer, it’s working in the spring, the fall and the winter. So no matter if it’s, you know, really hot up there, making your air conditioning bills crazy, it’ll pull the hot air out. In the winter time, when you get moisture and condensation, that’s what causes the mold to grow on the inside of the roof sheathing; it can actually rot out the roof sheathing. It will save that from happening as well. So, get the bath exhaust fan out and improve the ventilation in the attic generally and you will not have any mold problems to worry about.

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

    LESLIE: Dave in Kentucky is a very lucky man. You’re expanding to your family with a baby due in December. What can we do for you with your ever-growing population at your house?

    DAVE: We’ve got a very small home. It was originally built as a lake cabin down in southeastern Kentucky. And two bedrooms upstairs with the small living room and kitchen dining areas in the basement with a walkout to the lake. We have no closets. Shower only. No bathtub. Looking to try to expand. We want to add an addition on but, in the meantime, we want to be able to add storage for stuff for closet space or ways to do that.

    TOM: Well, there’s nothing about having a kid that is small. You know, I learned that when I had …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Makes you reevaluate your space.

    TOM: Yeah, I had … when I had my first child, everything seems to come in very, very large boxes. So it definitely becomes a challenge.

    Well, David, sounds like you have to prioritize. I mean how are you going to find that space? Well, first of all, you’re going to, obviously, get rid of stuff that you have. Secondly, you’re going to look into the nooks and the crannies and the architecture of the existing space that you have and try to figure out where you could squeeze some more out. For example, in my house, I had a stair that underneath there was a big crawlspace. So by cutting a hole in the wall, we were able to pick up a huge closet there. In the attic there may be space there that could be finished out and used for storage. Those are the spaces that you have to look at first.

    And then, secondly, in terms of the addition, well, the first stop is to make sure that there’s no rules or regulations with your municipality that’s going to prevent you from adding the addition on. And then, beyond that, our recommendation would be that you always find an architect that really can get to know all of the plans that you have for your home and for your family and design all of that stuff in mind. And really think about some of the issues that might be important moving forward. You know, there’s a big trend today towards universal design. Right, Leslie?

    LESLIE: That’s true. It’s really important to think about how you will evolve in your space and be important to think about how you can best design the space so it grows with you; whether it’s your growing family or whether you’re aging. And I think, Dave, since you have a wonderful location on the lake, you might want to think about if either your room or the baby’s room is going to have a nice view of the water, why not create a whole window seat area whereas the entire window seat is filled with storage underneath that opens out, whether into drawers or a chest; something that might pop open for storage. This way, you’re making use of the space and the view.

    TOM: There’s a good start for you, Dave. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    LESLIE: No doubt Lily in Tennessee faced those moments of fear – please flush, please flush, please flush – because you’re calling with a toilet issue. What’s going on?

    LILY: I’ve got a problem where sometimes I can flush the toilet (INAUDIBLE) the toilet five or six times. We only use the paper for number one; we don’t use it for number two. And I don’t know what’s the problem. We rent this house and there was a plumber coming in; he got frustrated and he left. He said he couldn’t do anything. (laughter) And this is his second time.

    TOM: How old is this toilet, Lily? Do you know how old it is?

    LILY: I’m not sure. We just rent the house.

    TOM: It sounds to me like it’s one of the newer low-flow toilets. And some of the inexpensive low-flow toilets just plain don’t work very well. Generally, the reason for that is because of the design of the toilet. The trap, which is under the bowl, has too many hard angles in it. It’s used the same size trap that used to work fine when you had five or six gallons of water in a toilet but now that there’s only 1.6, there’s just plain not the same amount of water. I mean if you think about it, when we had five gallon toilet tanks – water weighs eight pounds per gallon – that was 40 pounds of water pressure just pushing down that trap, that pipe, pushing everything out of the way. Now you go to 1.6 …

    LESLIE: Now it’s maybe 20 pounds.

    TOM: Yeah, yeah. Well, even … yeah, even less. And so it’s just not going to perform like it did. So this is probably an issue for you to take up with your landlord because I don’t think it’s anything that you guys are doing. It’s a common occurrence with 1.6 gallon toilets that they just don’t flush very well; especially the older models. The newer ones, by the way, are much better because they’ve redesigned the bowls and the traps to be much wider and not have so many restrictions; so many twists and turns and hard angles. They’ve engineered all of that out of it so now it works a lot better. So, in your case, Lily, it’s time for you guys to buy a new toilet or convince your landlord to do just that.

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

    So, are you a gardener? Do you have a green thumb? Are you trying to figure out how to get your rosebushes to survive? Well, they can if they’re maintained properly.

    LESLIE: But how do you know how to prune those rosebushes properly? Well, we’ll tell you how, next.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by BEHR From Home, where you can select from over 3,700 paint colors and order samples online for home delivery. For more information, visit Behr.com. That’s B-e-h-r.com.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: We hold the ladder while you climb it. Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT for the answer to your home improvement question.

    LESLIE: And today, we’re holding your hand while we’re teaching you how to prune the rosebushes in the garden, to ensure beautiful buds all summer long. Here’s a couple of things you want to keep in mind.

    You want to make sure that when you prune the rosebushes, you use a sharp set of garden shears. Get a nice, good pair and make sure you keep those blades very sharp; otherwise, you could get into a ton of problems with some dull blades. And also, make sure you wear gloves because, remember, those rosebushes usually have some sharp things – they’re called thorns – so look out for them. You want to make sure you remove any stems that are damaged by insects or show any sign of disease or have been damaged by storms. And make sure you get rid of any of the dead stems or wood; and that’s identifiable by its dry, sort of blackish-brown appearance.

    And then, when you’re pruning them, make sure you get rid of any stems that are touching one another; you don’t want more than one in the same area. And you want to go with a vase shape. It’s really best for allowing all of the light to reach the bud union on the rosebushes themselves. And remove any stems that are spindly or smaller in diameter than a pencil. And that should keep your rosebushes looking pretty darn nice all summer long.

    TOM: My grandmother had the most beautiful rosebushes; except that every year, at the end of the season, she would cut them down to a nub.

    LESLIE: Ooh, like a stump.

    TOM: That used to freak us out. It was like, ‘What did you do to your roses?!’

    LESLIE: Yeah, but you know what? You’re supposed to do that with pretty much everything in the garden.

    TOM: I know, I know.

    LESLIE: And then, miraculously, as winter does its thing, everything comes back in the spring time.

    TOM: She knew what she was doing because they were gorgeous every single year.

    LESLIE: Gardening takes a lot of faith.

    TOM: Well, we’re giving away a handy tool this hour. It’s the Weather Channel Storm Tracker by Vector. It’s a weather alert radio and flashlight worth 40 bucks. It’s tuned into the Emergency Public Broadcast System by the National Weather Service. It’s got an LED flashlight, a cell phone charger. Very handy tool to have around. You want to win it? Call now. 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Leslie, who’s next?

    LESLIE: Dawn in California listens to The Money Pit on KSRO. What can we do for you?

    DAWN: I wanted to know about my air conditioning unit I had installed a year ago. Since I’m starting to use it now, I was wondering if there’s any way … is it going to make the house just as dry … the air in the house just as dry as the furnace does?

    TOM: No, it does the reverse, in fact. In the summer, the air is so much more humid that what an air conditioner does is it will take some of the moisture out of the air. By the way, it doesn’t do it as well as a product like a whole home dehumidifier, which is specifically designed to reduce humidity in the home. It will take out some of the moisture in the home.

    A furnace, on the other hand, takes out even more moisture in the home and dries that out and makes it very dry. That’s why you feel very parched. So generally, in the winter, if you have hot air heat, you add humidity. But in the summer, you do things to take it away; either by running your central air conditioning and, hopefully, by adding a whole home dehumidifier. For example, Aprilaire makes one that takes out like 90 pints of water a day. And the more humidity you take out of the air, the more comfortable you will be all summer long.

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

    LESLIE: Doug in Rhode Island’s got moldy shingles. Tell us what’s going on.

    DOUG: Yeah, I have … I enjoy your show and I have a question. I have – I believe I would say it’s mold – growing on my asphalt shingles. They’re basically green spots, various sizes. And I’m not sure if I should brush these off or if there’s a treatment for that. And if I do brush them, would that damage the shingle?

    TOM: That’s actually a very common condition. Typically, it happens more on very shady roofs and when you don’t have a lot of sunlight getting to it, then the moss has a chance to grow. Because that’s what it is; it’s moss. There is a product out called Jomax – J-o-m-a-x – that’s very good for getting rid of that. It’s available at home improvement centers and paint stores. And you mix that up; you spray it on the moss; you let it sit for a little while; and then you scrub it off. You can do that with a stiff broom or you can do it with a pressure washer.

    As for your question about will this damage the shingles – well, first of all, the moss will not. This is really just a cosmetic issue. But if you put too much pressure – too much scrubbing pressure or too much of a pressure washer – you could, in fact, damage the shingles.

    Now, there is another way to prevent this from happening after you get it clean. First of all, of course, get as much sunlight on that part of the roof as you can. So if you can cut back some of the tree limbs so there’s more exposure, do that. The second thing you can do – a bit of a trick of the trade, Doug – is to add a copper ridge vent at the peak of the roof.

    LESLIE: Or even a nickel ridge vent.

    TOM: Or a nickel ridge vent. Because either copper or nickel – as the rain strikes it, it will release some metals into the water and that acts as a mildicide and actually cleans the roof as the water runs down it.

    So, nothing structurally to be concerned about; really cosmetic. That’s how you get it cleaned off and that’s how you stop it from growing back.

    LESLIE: And remember, Doug, be real cautious when you’re working up on your roof. You want to make sure that you feel comfortable up there before you go up and do any sort of home improvement.

    TOM: That’s right because it’s going to be very slippery when you use those chemicals.

    LESLIE: Rosemary in Michigan’s cracking up. No, we don’t mean her; we mean her ceiling. What’s going on?

    ROSEMARY: Well, I have a problem with the ceilings in my upstairs house. I have a new vault (ph) ceiling put over an old ceiling because we did a remodel in the summer. And the existing ceiling had the problem and now I’m finding that I’m getting it with the new ceiling. The screws are coming through. I get cracks along the wall and where the ceiling are joined together, on the inside retaining walls; not on any of the outside walls. My contractor put in additional nine inches of insulation – which now we have 18 inches – but all of a sudden it’s happening again. It only happens right after the summer and it goes into the winter.

    TOM: How was this additional ceiling added? Was it drywall put on top of plaster? Was it a wood frame that the drywall was attached to? Explain how it was put together?

    ROSEMARY: Well, we have a wood frame house that’s 10 years old and the drywall was put in over that.

    TOM: But you said they added an additional ceiling?

    ROSEMARY: Yes, a contractor that we had a remodel do, he put in an additional ceiling in the two bathrooms. And where they …

    TOM: Was it additional drywall screwed to the old ceiling? Or how was it attached?

    ROSEMARY: Yes, yes.

    TOM: First of all, couple of things. The fact that you’re getting some movement in the corners – not that unusual. That’s typically where drywall moves.

    LESLIE: And not just in the corners but at that point where the walls meet the ceiling. That’s very common.

    TOM: Yeah. The way to limit that is to re-tape and re-spackle it with a fiberglass mesh drywall tape, as opposed to a paper tape, which is just much stronger and more resilient to the expanding.

    LESLIE: And it’s a lot easier to work with.

    ROSEMARY: Yeah, actually I’ve done that two or three times. And also, right where the closet door is; right at the corners at the top has an angle or a crack that goes right up there to.

    TOM: Yes. Again, that’s another common area for a crack. The next thing that you could do – if you have screws that are actually coming out, that, I have to tell you, is very unusual. And the only thing I can imagine that’s causing that is if the screws were not attached to the frame itself. If the screws were just put into the old drywall, then there’s really nothing holding them. So it might be a good idea to get a stud finder – which can actually sort of see through the ceiling or see through the walls – and find out where the beams are in that ceiling and put additional screws about every 12 inches. Make sure they’re long enough to go through, not one layer of drywall but two layers of drywall and then another inch or so into the beams. Because all of these things that you’re telling us, Rosemary, sound like you have an excessive amount of movement. Once you put a drywall screw in, it really should not fall out; there’s no reason to it. A nail, on the other hand, will work it’s way out. But a drywall screw should go in once and be permanent …

    LESLIE: And Rosemary, when you’re putting in those drywall screws, make sure that as they get close to the paper of the drywall, let them twist just once into that paper. You don’t want it to pierce too much through the paper; otherwise, it’s not holding onto anything because the paper is what gives that drywall strength.

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

    Well, you know the old saying: it takes a thief to know a thief. So, how about this for an idea? You want to know where the security lapses are in your home? How about inviting a thief to break in. You can find out where the security breaches are and you can fix them.

    LESLIE: Well, I know it sounds like a scary idea but there’s actually a TV show out there and it’s on TLC. It’s called It Takes a Thief and they break into your home. And they’re looking for houses to burglarize. Coming up next, we’ll give you all the details and if you want to learn all about your security breaches.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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: 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: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974; where we talk a lot about how to improve your money pit. But you know what? You’ve got to protect it, too.

    Did you know that every eight seconds, somewhere in America, a thief is breaking into a home or a business? What’s he thinking? How does he choose his next target? Wouldn’t it be great to know so that you could avoid being that next victim?

    LESLIE: Well, actually, you can know and if you watch the Discovery hit show, It Takes a Thief, ex-cons break into homes to expose the weak spots and ultimately show the homeowners ways to increase their security. Well, the show is looking for homes to hit, so joining us with more info is Risa Tanania, the casting director for It Takes a Thief.


    RISA: Hi. How you guys doing?

    TOM: We’re great. We love your show.

    RISA: Thank you so much; we love it, too.

    TOM: It’s amazing that, you know, if you just look like you know what you’re doing, people leave you alone and you can walk right into these houses half the time.

    RISA: It’s shocking, isn’t it?

    LESLIE: Well, even when people are on a ladder on a busy city street, climbing in a window, I’ve seen a cop walk by …

    RISA: I know.

    LESLIE: … and no one’s said anything. I’m hooked on your show, by the way.

    TOM: Well, for the few people that may not have seen Risa’s show, why don’t you tell us about the setup for It Takes a Thief.

    RISA: It’s really fantastic. Honestly, there are these two men that were petty thieves, essentially – they were ex-burglars; John and Matt. And they spent many, many years breaking into people’s homes. This is sort of their public service. They break into people’s homes, they rob you blind (laughter) and then they show you what your vulnerability is, how it was that they broke in and, even more importantly, what it is that they can do with the loot; what they can do with your valuables and how they use all those things and how thieves can make money from that. And then, we give you a full security home makeover. I mean a complete makeover with …

    LESLIE: Yeah, but then you go back and break in again. (laughing)

    RISA: Yes, they absolutely do. Well, we have to see if you learned your lesson. So then we go back a few weeks later, when you have no idea – there’s no prep involved with that – and see if Jon can actually break in.

    TOM: The show is called It Takes a Thief and the casting director is Risa Tanania. And Risa is looking for you. We understand you’re looking for some homes to hit in the northeast part of the country. What makes a great house for you to break into?

    RISA: Well, I’ll tell you there are always … I mean, in casting, things are different constantly. There are a few variables that I look for all the time. First thing I look for is characters who pop. That’s number one. So I don’t care what you have; I don’t care what kind of house you have. If you have really great energy, if you have a great vibe, a great personality, I want to see you; I want to get you on television.

    Second thing is the house. Love interesting homes. Also looking for businesses. This season, I’m really looking for businesses. I’m looking outside of the box. So smaller businesses, cash only businesses. These are people that are really vulnerable. Start-ups. You know, businesses that have been around for just a year and can’t quite afford security yet.

    And the third thing I’m looking for is loot. (laughter) So essentially, any house … you know, I mean mansions, beach homes. You know, people that … people that have money; people that have original artwork or China or collectibles. It doesn’t have to be someone rich. It can be someone who inherited something; somebody who’s an Elvis collector. (laughter) Anything that has value in your home; whether it be sentimental value or monetary value. Anything that’s of value, I’m interested in.

    TOM: What are some of the most common mistakes that your thieves – your professional thieves – see people do time and time again that we could learn from?

    RISA: Really the basics. They have an alarm but they don’t use it. I mean I hear that one all the time. ‘We have an alarm but we don’t use it.’ Windows that aren’t locked.

    LESLIE: And even second-story windows have to be locked too, right?

    RISA: Oh, yeah! Absolutely. Absolutely. There are ladders. (laughter) Ladders are accessible.

    LESLIE: But you would think somebody with a ladder climbing in your window, someone’s going to say something.

    RISA: Absolutely not! People … you know, your neighbors think that you’re getting … you know, you’re getting work done to your house.

    LESLIE: Aye aye.

    RISA: You know, people want to trust their environment. So even if you’re the neighbor looking at someone’s home, you just … you don’t want to think the worst ever.

    LESLIE: And having had my childhood home robbed when I was a kid, it’s the most just unnerving experience because you come in and you’re like, ‘Oh, my God. Someone was in all of my stuff.’ And I remember, you know, all of my parents’ jewelry; all the things were stolen. And all I could think about – you know I was probably like five or six years old – was that perhaps they stole my baby blanket.

    RISA: Right, I was just going to say.

    TOM: Yeah, because treasures mean different things to different people and you know, your baby blanket is a treasure to you.

    RISA: No, but it’s true. It absolutely is. And that’s why I say it’s not only monetary value. When I’m talking about loot, I’m talking about sentimental value. You know, your grandmother’s ashes are … is irreplaceable. So if somebody were to take that just because of what it’s being held in is an awful thought. And yeah, you’re right, I mean being robbed is beyond violating. And that’s really what we’re trying to get people in touch with. When they … when they watch Jon breaking into their home, we really are trying to give them that experience so they can see what it would be like and they can really, really want to fix it.

    TOM: So, have you had some good success stories where people really learned their lesson?

    RISA: Everybody’s so happy. I mean people just love it. People are so happy with their makeovers. They really are. It changes lives.

    TOM: So if this sounds interesting and it sounds like something … maybe you have a house you’d like to put Risa’s thieves to the test, you could give them a call on their casting hotline. That number is 917-606-2522. 917-606-2522. Or you could log onto DSC.Discovery.com and search the fan sites to find It Takes a Thief.

    RISA: Also, feel free to email us at It Takes a Thief at LionTV.us. It’s a really easy way. You can, typically, just shoot us an email, tell us something about yourself, your house, send me a picture. That’s probably the fastest and easiest way to get to me or you know, my assistant.

    TOM: Terrific.

    Risa, thanks again for stopping by The Money Pit.

    RISA: Thank you so much.

    TOM: It’s a great show and congratulations.

    Risa Tanania from It Takes a Thief. Fascinating show and I can’t wait for you to score some Money Pit victims.

    Coming up next, midsummer lawn care tips to keep you in the green.

    (promo/theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit was 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: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974; where surveys show that listening to The Money Pit results in 30 percent fewer visits to the emergency room.

    LESLIE: (laughing) That’s right. More listeners to The Money Pit have all 10 fingers.

    TOM: That’s right, that’s right. See? (laughter) We practice safe home improvement, folks.

    LESLIE: You’re so funny, Tom. (laughter)

    Alright. So we were talking about midsummer lawn care before the break and I just wanted to let you know there are some things to keep in mind.

    If your lawns turning brown this time of year, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It could just be the type of grass that you have. Especially if you live in a hot or dry area and you have a cool season grass – like a Kentucky bluegrass or a fescue or perennial rye grass. These tend to go dormant in the midsummer and they turn brown, which just means they’re taking a rest. They’re, too, enjoying the restful summer; which is OK unless you have a prolonged drought. So don’t get nervous if your grass is turning brown; especially if you have one of those before-mentioned grasses.

    If you want to try to keep your grass green all summer – and who doesn’t? – make sure you water it an inch of water each week; unless it rains. Just monitor how much water you’re actually getting on there. And try not to let the grass go brown and then water it and go brown again because those repetitive cycles will really damage it. So do the best you can to keep that grass looking great all summer.

    TOM: And by the way, if you do get hit with a drought and it does go brown, try to stay off it. If you stay off it, you’re not going to, you know, erode the grass that’s there down to the dirt. You stay off it, it will sort of become green once again.

    And also, if you are in full bloom with that grass, let it grow a little bit extra. The extra shade will keep the roots cool and reduce water loss from the soil.

    And finally, don’t apply fertilizer or weed killers in midsummer. Give yourself a break. You don’t want to put them on them.

    Hey, in our next e-newsletter, we’ve got some tips on controlling weeds, mowing and watering. Everything you need to know to keep you in the green all year long. Sign up for the newsletter at MoneyPit.com. It’s free; comes out every Friday. There are over 50,000 people that get those home improvement tips every single week. Lots of great information. Sign up, again, at MoneyPit.com.

    LESLIE: And because Tom and I love our Money Pit listeners so much – that’s right, folks; we love you out there – we’re giving away a great prize this hour. It’s the Weather Channel Storm Tracker by Vector and it’s a weather alert radio. It features a flashlight, a cell phone charger. It even has a hand crank recharger for backup power. So if you run out of batteries or if the power goes out, it’ll keep running for you. And what it does is it posts all emergency weather warnings from the Emergency Public Broadcast Systems and they let you know everything that’s going on in your area and just around anywhere in the country. It’s worth about 40 bucks but it could be yours free if you call in now.

    TOM: 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    Who’s next?

    LESLIE: David in California finds The Money Pit on The Quake – KQKE. What can we do for you?

    DAVID: Well, we’re remodeling the bathroom and my wife wants to change from the standard bathroom sink basin – whatever you call it – to the one that has the glass bowl sitting on top.

    TOM: Oh, OK.

    LESLIE: Oh, OK.

    DAVID: And I’ve priced around and they’re like $300 to $500.

    TOM: OK.

    DAVID: I’m trying to find alternatives and I was told that you can’t use regular crystals or regular bowls because it has to be tempered and (INAUDIBLE) the heat and [lot of different] (ph)things. I’m just trying to find something … either alternatives (INAUDIBLE) retailers here or another (INAUDIBLE) that’s just less pricey because the fixture alone is going to cost me another $200 to begin with.

    TOM: How about making it funky? You can use a tin bucket …

    DAVID: Mm-hmm. (laughing)

    TOM: … poke a hole in the bottom of it (laughter), get a garden faucet and you’ll be good to go. Yeah, those bowls are very expensive. They’re gorgeous, but they are expensive because …

    LESLIE: And I have to tell you, $300, David, is actually a very inexpensive price in comparison to some of them.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) That’s what I was thinking, too. Yeah.

    LESLIE: I mean I’ve seen some beautiful hand blown pieces that are upwards of $1,500 to $2,000.

    DAVID: Wow.

    TOM: Yeah, it’s not the kind of thing that you can make yourself. You really do want to invest in a good quality bowl. And I think that that’s kind of one of the trends. In fact, when Leslie and I go to places like the National Kitchen and Bath Show, where we see all these like to-die-for kitchens and bathroom designs, that’s a very, very common and popular design. And they come in glass and they also come in more of the granite sort of stoneware.

    LESLIE: They even come in hammered metals and coppers. I mean some really beautiful choices out there. It depends on the material that you’re interested in.

    TOM: I don’t think you’re going to find them, though, for much cheaper than 300 bucks, Dave.

    LESLIE: Mario in Rhode Island listens to The Money Pit on WPRO. What can we do for you today?

    MARIO: OK, I want to … I have a vase; cemetery flower vase on a stone.

    TOM: OK.

    MARIO: And it’s getting wobbly and I want to put silicone in it to see that it doesn’t come apart.

    TOM: OK.

    MARIO: I wonder what kind of silicone would you suggest that would be really appropriate for that kind of job?

    TOM: So basically, you want to use this as an adhesive to kind of seal it down?

    MARIO: That’s right.

    LESLIE: And it’s got to weather-proof since it’s going to be outside all the time.

    MARIO: That’s correct.

    TOM: Yeah, I would use an exterior silicone caulk. It’s going to have UV protection in it which is going to stop the sun from deteriorating it. And if you use that kind of a product, it’s going to last you, probably, at least five years. It’s very similar to the silicone that you use for bathroom caulking; except that it has a UV additive so that it fights the effects of the sun deteriorating it.

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

    LESLIE: Sean in California finds The Money Pit on KSRO. What’s going on in your house?

    SEAN: Well, I have some questions about insulating my home.

    TOM: OK, how can we help?

    SEAN: Well, I’m interested … I’ve been hearing all these theories about wrapping your water heater and caulking the windows and doors and changing energy efficient bulbs to help drive down your utility costs. I’m just wondering what really makes a difference. What would you guys recommend as a starting point?

    TOM: Well, all those things that you mentioned will, collectively, make a difference. But what would we tackle as the biggest things first? The first thing I would tackle would be the attic insulation. Making sure that you have enough attic insulation is very, very critical and that probably gives you amongst the highest return on investment. Generally, you’re going to want 10 to 15 inches of insulation in your attic and that needs to be balanced with proper ventilation so that that insulation doesn’t get moist or damp because, if it does, it won’t insulate properly.

    You mentioned electric water heater. Sure, putting on an inexpensive fiberglass jacket around the water heater – definitely a good thing to do; very low cost of installation; easy to do. Make sure that you leave access to get to the coils, which is behind those two metal plates that are on the front of the water heater so that you can get that.

    The other thing – energy efficient light bulbs. No reason not to do those. Buy the … buy the …

    LESLIE: Compact fluorescents.

    TOM: Compact fluorescents. Exactly. To get 60 watts of light out of a compact fluorescent, you only need to use 15 watts of electricity. So it’s a pretty good return on investment.

    LESLIE: And Sean, I would also think about, especially as your weather changes – I know, out where you are, you know, things get a little bit cooler in the evenings and you can lose a lot of energy whether you’re heating or you’re cooling, depending on whatever weather situation you’re facing – is to make sure you caulk all around the outside of your windows; wherever the windows meet the siding. Do that same thing for around door frames. Anything where you might get an energy leak because all of those combined equal to a three-foot square hole in the side of your house. So make sure you take care of all of those situations where you’re losing any energy outside.

    TOM: You know, Sean, a good place to start is to have an energy audit done. And most utility companies will do energy audits for free or for a very low fee. Because this way, you can have an energy expert come in and take a look at your house soup to nuts, floorboards to shingles, and give you sort of a priority list of what things you should be tackling first, second, third. And then, you can kind of plan these improvements based on your budget, your time and your desire to reduce those energy costs.

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

    Well, does sound travel through the vents in your house? Perhaps better than even through your phone lines?

    LESLIE: Well, if it does, find out how to soundproof your ductwork, next.

    (theme song)

    ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Dens Armor Plus, the revolutionary paperless drywall from Georgia-Pacific.

    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT. The website is MoneyPit.com, where you can go to Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an email question. Anything that’s on your mind. Perhaps you don’t feel like picking up the phone, maybe you’re driving, you don’t want to be dangerous. Go to our website, please, MoneyPit.com and click on Ask Tom and Leslie.

    So, why don’t we dive into that email bag right now. It sounds like we’ve got a sound engineer writing this question.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) That’s right. This is from Zach in Salt Lake City who writes: ‘How can you soundproof HVAC ductwork? I have an older two-story home and it seems like you can hear everything going on in the opposite side of the house through the air vents. We’re about to do some major work in the basement and I would like to address the noise issue while the ducting will be exposed. What kind of products are available to stifle that sound traveling through the ducting?’

    TOM: He also says he has a 12 year old that’s just learning to play the drums. (laughing) No, not really. But that may be the situation in your house.

    Well, let’s talk about soundproofing. You know, most people think that soundproofing can be done simply by adding insulation. It can, but generally, if you want to soundproof a space, you have to have, really, a room within a room. You know, if you go to a recording studio – the kinds that we work in – really, the area where we speak, where we use microphones, is sort of inside of another room because it can be isolated on all sides from the sound, the vibration, anything that’s going on in that space.

    Now, in your own house, you don’t have that kind of ability. So what can you do? Well, when it comes to the ductwork – because that’s what you’re asking about – there is an acoustical product that can be wrapped around the outside of the ducts that’s designed to slow down the sound transmission. And my sound engineer, Jim, told me that if you put a 90-degree bend in a duct, you reduce three db of sound. So the more bends, the quieter it’s going to be. However, the flip side of that is – from an HVAC efficiency perspective – whenever you do put a bend in a duct, that one bend is equal to the resistance of 20 feet of straight duct. So, if you’re going to put a lot of bends in the duct, you have to have a stronger fan to kind of get that air around. But it will reduce the sound transmission.

    LESLIE: But Tom, there’s also the benefit of that duct wrapping, that soundproofing acoustical material; is that it also increases the efficiency at which your ducts work. It keeps the heat in so you’re not losing a lot of residual heat or cooling because it acts as an insulator to that ductwork itself. So it’s got another benefit to it.

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point.

    You know, other things that you can do in a space you simply want to be quieter that’s inexpensive to do, you could simply hang heavy draperies, heavy curtains on the … on the walls; anything that’s going to break up the sound waves as they sort of bounce around that space is going to do a good job at making it quieter and making sure it doesn’t transfer to the other rooms. So, for example, Leslie, in a basement kids’ room, maybe you hang some drapes up there and it keeps it quieter so when the kids get a little crazy, you don’t hear it upstairs.

    LESLIE: (chuckling) And remember, I know leather furniture looks cool but it bounces sound more than you could ever imagine.

    TOM: Is that right?

    LESLIE: It is true. So … and it’s funny because you always see a lot of people with entertainment rooms with leather furniture. But all that does is help the sound bounce right back to the walls and then back at you.

    TOM: It’s also hard to get icicle sticks off of it, too (laughter), when the kids leave them on the couch. (laughing)

    Well, it’s been a wet and rainy year, thus far, and that means the gardener’s out there are going great guns. Up next, Leslie’s Last Word with some gardening trends for 2006.

    LESLIE: Gardening for 2006, folks, doesn’t mean just what flowers to plant anymore. It’s all about getting outside, cooking out there, entertaining, reading, relaxing and even working in the great outdoors. Because higher fuel prices, folks, are tending to keep us at home. So we don’t want to go anywhere because it’s costing enough money to get out the door in the car. And we’re trying to stay home and create our own getaway in our own backyards; keeping it close.

    When you want to create an outdoor space, be sure you identify how you’re going to use that space and then create an exterior room to best suit your needs. And the big garden outdoor trend is turning everyday homeowners into exterior decorators. You’re using high-end fabrics, exterior lighting, making cozy couches outside to take a beautiful nap, having wonderful reading areas, even play areas and entertaining areas. Whatever you do, make sure it’s an outdoor space that you’re going to love and use all summer long.

    TOM: We are The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, where our advice is always worth more than what you pay for it.

    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 2006 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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