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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 at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974 with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma. We’ll hold the ladder while you climb it and get the job done. Call us now at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    Well, you’ve heard the song, Leslie, by The Clash – ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go.’

    LESLIE: It is the best Clash song ever.

    TOM: It’s a great song. And that’s a question that many Americans are asking themselves, according to a recent survey. No retiring to Arizona or Florida; just staying around to enjoy all that hard work that you put into your Money Pit. So this hour, we’re going to give you some tips on helping your home grow old with you.

    LESLIE: And everyone is thinking green when it comes to items you use in and on and around your house. But how do you know which products really are environmentally better? And what does green mean anyway? There are so many definitions. Well, we’re going to try to sort out that for you in just a little bit.

    TOM: And speaking of green, keeping your garden green is an important thing to think about this time of the year so we’re going to learn the best …

    LESLIE: Oh my God, knock wood. So far mine’s doing good.

    TOM: Looking good? Yeah, mine’s really looking good, I’ve got to say.

    LESLIE: So far, so good.

    TOM: All that rain we had is really paying off in the garden.

    Well we’re going to learn the best lawn and garden care products to use to make your yard the envy of the entire neighborhood.

    LESLIE: And we’re giving away a great prize this hour that’s going to help you with all of your outdoor care and maintenance and cleaning. It’s a Husky pressure washer and it’s worth 179 bucks.

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

    Leslie, who’s first?

    LESLIE: Joining us from Ridgewood, Ohio we’ve got Anna. Anna, what’s going on?

    ANNA: Well, we have a Tudor home and we have an unfinished attic. And we have noticed that when we’re in between seasons – like if the weather is very damp or really when we get those damp smells – we seem to get a smell in the attic. We have had some insulation blown into the attic and I don’t know if that’s what causing it.

    LESLIE: What about ventilation?

    ANNA: We have windows at either end of the attic but I, in the past, have kept them open but I was afraid that maybe little mice were coming in through there. So I closed …

    TOM: Well, do you have screens on the windows?

    ANNA: I have screens on the windows. I have that three-track storm and screen window.

    TOM: Because let me explain. In a perfectly ventilated attic, you’re going to have the attic air temperature should be the same as the outside. So the insulation stops the heat from the house from getting up into the attic. But the attic should be the same as the outside. So if you have any kind of an odor issue, it could be sourced with the moisture because you’re going to have a lot of humidity up there. And if you’re not letting …

    LESLIE: Especially if those windows are closed.

    TOM: Yeah, if you don’t let the humidity out not only could you get odors but the other thing that’s happening is that insulation is getting damp. And what many folks don’t understand about fiberglass insulation is that if you add two percent moisture to the insulation it loses one-third of its r value or its ability to insulate. So it’s very, very important that you have plenty of ventilation as well as insulation in an attic space.

    Now if you want something that doesn’t really require owner participation, like opening or closing a window, you simply could have additional roof vents installed. Ridge vents are probably the best, that go down the peak of the roof. And I like ridge vents because as the wind blows over your roof it constantly depressurizes the ridge.

    ANNA: Thank you so much for your help.

    TOM: Anna, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.

    TOM: Joe in West Virginia wants to talk plumbing. What can we do for you?

    JOE: Well, I’m doing a little project. I’m having a master bathroom added on. And the question that I had was is it OK to put the copper pipe into concrete?

    TOM: Joe, it is completely possible to install copper inside of concrete because it’s done all the time with radiant floor systems. A couple of things that you have to be concerned about. Just where the pipe enters and exits the concrete itself, you have to leave room for expansion and contraction.

    And another thing that you can do if you’re worried about any sort of abrasion is the copper pipe itself can be wrapped with a sleeve or a tape that kind of will act as an insulator so that the pipe can expand and contract inside the concrete. Because copper does expand and contract a lot. So for example, if you were going to do an embedded hard right angle of the copper pipe, you would probably want to have some insulating tape around there so it had some give and didn’t push against the copper – against the concrete as it was moving because that could cause a break.

    But it’s been done for years. It works very, very well and there’s no reason for concern about any chemical reaction between the copper and the concrete.

    LESLIE: Jim in New Jersey, you’ve got The Money Pit. What can we do for you?

    JIM: Well, I have a question for you. I have a second home; vacation home. And it’s a contemporary house.

    TOM: OK.

    JIM: And I have – it’s seems like – I have the heat turned way low, like 50 degrees, most of the time during the winter …

    TOM: Mm-hmm. What kind of heating system do you have in there, Jim?

    JIM: It’s a propane-fired hot-water baseboard. And it seems like I’m going through too much. And I’ll tell you, it’s not a very efficient system because the ceilings are so high …

    TOM: Ah. Mm-hmm.

    JIM: It just doesn’t – it doesn’t – I think it’s on too much.

    TOM: Mm-hmm.

    JIM: My question was I’m looking for a supplemental heating device that I can use maybe in the basement. I have a full basement, 10-foot ceilings. And I’m thinking that it might be best to try and warm up the basement and warm up the floors as opposed to trying to warm up the first floor – the living floor – which is just going up to the ceiling.

    TOM: Well, couple of things you should do. First of all, you want to reduce your consumption you ought to look at the energy efficiency issues. You probably ought to have an energy audit done by an independent energy auditor to try to get a sense as to where you could tighten up that house so you need less energy.

    LESLIE: Or even your propane provider probably does an energy audit. You just have to ask for it. They’ll come to the house and let you know where these energy leaks are and then you can help to fix them. Are you a fan of ceiling fans?

    JIM: Yes, I love ceiling fans and we do have them in the house.

    LESLIE: Well, there are even ceiling fans on the market that heat in addition to cooling. They have heating elements built up into the fan motors and the mechanisms themselves. So if you want, you can turn it on as a heating unit and then the fan will push the heat down, which will help circulate the heat around the room.

    JIM: Yeah, the heating fan is called a Reiker Room Conditioner. Reiker – R-e-i-k-e-r Room Conditioner. And they’re actually incredibly efficient. They cost about a nickel an hour to operate. So that’s – if you have a high ceiling, that’s kind of a smart way to add some additional heat. We actually have one in our kitchen. And our kitchen kind of sticks off of the main body of the house so it’s always a little cooler in there in the winter and a little hotter in the summer. And that really helps balance things out.

    JIM: Now, is that thermostatically controlled …

    TOM: Yeah.

    JIM: .. or is it kind of on/off kind of thing?

    TOM: No, there’s a thermostat; a wireless thermostat that goes on the wall; like a wireless remote control.

    JIM: Oh, that’s great.

    TOM: And you set the temperature that you want and then it maintains whether one, two or three elements come on at the same time.

    JIM: And that’s electric.

    TOM: It’s electric. That’s right. And it just needs regular 120-volt service.

    The website for the Reiker Room Conditioner is BuyReiker.com; B-u-y-R-e-i-k-e-r. And the fans are listed there. They look good and they’ll do a great job of delivering some additional heat to a supplemental area. Good for a space like a basement with a high ceiling or maybe even a porch, like a third room that you like to have a little bit of a heat on a cool evening. BuyReiker.com.

    LESLIE: In Connecticut, listening on WXLM, we have Jackie. What can we help you with?

    JACKIE: I have a mobile home. And last summer I put an air conditioner in my kitchen window and I think my daughter and I didn’t have it tipped out all the way. I had water running down. Now I have a mold problem running from my kitchen window all the way – I mean a good three feet. And I can’t – I’ve tried hot bleach and water. Everything. I can’t get rid of it. It keeps coming back. What do I have to do? (chuckling)

    TOM: Well, you’re not using the air conditioner now, I would expect. Are you sure the mold is regrowing or are you just looking at a stain?

    JACKIE: No, I – I mean and actually the bottom moulding is kind of popped out.

    TOM: Alright, well here’s what I want you to do. And it sounds like you’ve done some of this but let’s just go from the beginning. First of all, you need to mix up a bleach and water solution of about one-third bleach and two-thirds water. You need to spray this wall area down that’s affected. And then you wash it. The next thing you do is you prime that wall with an oil-based primer like a KILZ or something of that nature.

    LESLIE: Because that’s going to seal in that stain and keep it from penetrating back through.

    TOM: Because very often what happens is a stain will leach back out through the wall even if it’s been eliminated once. So once you seal the entire wall with a primer, then you could put a topcoat of paint on it and you might even want to consider using a paint with mildicide in it. And usually if you buy a paint that’s designed for the bathroom or the kitchen it has a mildicide in it. And those things, as long as you’re not continuing to saturate that water, should cover this up and have it looking very nice.

    JACKIE: OK, thanks a lot.

    LESLIE: Hey, Money Pit listeners. Are you planning a big Memorial Day barbecue? Well, make sure your grill is ready. Ask us how by calling in your home repair or your home improvement question or even your grilling question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.

    TOM: 888-666-3974.

    Up next, when people purchase their first house, a lot of thought and planning usually goes into it. And the same is true when you prepare your home for the arrival of a new baby. Thought and advance planning also should be done if you want to stay in your home as long as possible as you age. We’ll give you the tricks of the trade for that, after this.

    (promo/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: You can do it yourself but you don’t have to do it alone. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.

    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.

    TOM: Call us now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. If you pick up the phone you’ll get the answer to your home improvement question and a chance at wining a fabulous prize because this hour we have a Husky pressure washer, worth 179 bucks, to give away. It’s an indispensable tool for me. I use it to clean my sidewalks, to clean my
    siding. You can even use it to clean your car. But just don’t set the pressure (Leslie chuckles) too, too high. It won’t have a good result. (chuckling)

    LESLIE: Alright, folks. Well, reports are showing that a reduction in homes’ market value – in some part of the country things are kind of leveling off and going down. So a lot of people are staying put where they are. And there are a lot of simple and low-cost and even no-cost things that you can do to modify your home for the future as you’re aging, as you’re welcoming grandkids, as you’re having children; pretty much for anybody of any age as you’re staying within your home. And most of these tips are from the AARP and they really, like I said, can help anyone at any age.

    In the bathroom, try installing night lights to give everybody a helping hand when they’re coming in the bathroom late at night. Place nonslip strips or decals in the bathroom and on the shower floor to help you get a good footing. Even mount grab bars by the toilets and the tubs. They don’t have to look like they’re from a hospital. They really can go with the d

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